Nineteenth-century attorney Sarah Woolson is still trying to get her life together. Against her family's wishes, she opens her own San Francisco law firm, only to find that clients---paying clients, that is---are wary of allowing a woman to manage their legal affairs. Just when her patience, as well as her money, are about to run out, Sarah and her friend and former colleague, Robert Campbell, attend a séance at San Francisco's Cliff House. Making their way through the worst storm of the season, they arrive at their destination to find themselves in for much more than, in Robert's words, "silly parlor tricks." After a dramatic display of spirit apparitions, flying trumpets, and phantom music, Madame Olga Karpova---a renowned Russian clairvoyant---and her guests make a grisly discovery: One of the twelve people seated at the table has been brutally strangled.