Five little Englishmen, feeling quite secure, one went and lost his head, and then there were four. When Terry Pugh's headless body is found floating in the canal, DCI Woodend at first believes that Pugh had merely miscalculated the amount of rope he needed to hang himself. But why would Pugh commit suicide when he had a loving wife who was expecting their first baby, and was just about to start an exciting new job? Other disturbing questions soon follow in the first body's wake. Who was the mysterious stranger? Pugh was seen with, just before he died? What is the connection between him and the down-and-out who suffers a similar fate to his only twenty-four hours later? And how many more men are intended to die? As the investigation proceeds, Woodend and his team come to realize that the key to solving the crimes is hidden in the past and on an island far, far away.