England, 1865. Hester Monk, the wife of William Monk, commander of the Thames River Police, questions the finances of a London church whose members' hard-earned charitable gifts appear to go into the pocket of charismatic preacher Abel Taft. Taft is accused of extortion and brilliant barrister Oliver Rathbone, newly appointed a judge, is chosen to preside over the trial. Taft's guilt seems clear, until a last-minute witness completely undermines the charges. Then Rathbone makes a well-meaning but reckless move that could ruin his career, his reputation, and his life.