Sarah Jenkinson, a freelance journalist, has not been seen or heard from since telling Ethan Menhennett, the American editor and owner of 'The National Heritage Gazette', that she is visiting a restored, but previously, unknown, Cornish Engine House.
Desperate for copy for the forthcoming edition of the magazine and hounded by his assistant Claire's concern for Sarah's safety, Ethan travels from London to Cornwall to find her. However, due to Sarah's reputation as a party animal, he is reluctant to unnecessarily involve the Police.
Unhurt, but shaken after crashing his hire car, Ethan is awakened by Jenny Woodford, a divorcee in her thirties, who takes him back to her house to recuperate. Jenny is then shocked to learn that Sarah was visiting Wheal Hingston, a mine which in the 16th Century was said to be cursed following the death of six villagers by the hand of Martha Guildeforde, a psychopathic female executioner and lover of the sadistic Judge Fredricks.
Unexpectedly, Jenny runs away, leaving Ethan tired, confused and unclear as to his whereabouts over the last twenty-four hours. He rings Claire and despite what she tells him about the disappearance of four American tourists, he insists on continuing his search. Promising Claire he will call the police if he doesn't find Sarah by the end of the day, he sets off hoping to retrace his steps.
Discovering the deaths of many Cornish men and boys in two underground tragedies have not been forgotten, nor those responsible forgiven, Ethan soon wishes he'd listened to Claire.
The story which unfolds not only relates the modern-day horrors experienced by a man drawn into a sequence of events he could never have imagined, but also tells of the hardship faced by Cornish Miners and their families, in their centuries past quest to satisfy the greed of those who invested funds in a dangerous and life expectancy reducing industry.