This is the secret report of Laurence Jago. Ex-clerk. Unwilling spy. Reluctant sailor. Accidental detective.

New Year 1795, and Laurence Jago is aboard the Tankerville mail ship, en route to Philadelphia. Ostensibly travelling as assistant to the irrepressible journalist William Philpott, Laurence's real mission is to aid the civil servant carrying a vital treaty to Congress. A treaty that will prevent the Americans from joining with the French in the war against Britain.

However, when the civil servant meets an unfortunate - and supposedly accidental - end and the treaty disappears, Laurence realises only he can now prevent war with the US. Trapped on the ship with travellers including two penniless French aristocrats, an Irish actress and a dancing bear, Laurence must hunt down both the lost treaty and the murderer, before he has a tragic 'accident' himself...