Saddlebag preacher Thaddeus Lewis uncovers murder and conspiracy in Northumberland County. The discovery of a dead body on an isolated island in Rice Lake sends saddlebag preacher Thaddeus Lewis on a desperate hunt for the truth. Now, a woman for whom he feels a guilty attraction stands accused in a murder trial. Meanwhile, railway mania grips the county: everyone expects to get rich off the Cobourg--Peterborough railway line -- some at the expense of others. Aided by his fifteen-year-old granddaughter and a charming but inexperienced lawyer, Thaddeus defends the woman while privately questioning his motives for doing so. With little hard evidence to go on, the courtroom battle to prove the woman's innocence seems doomed -- until a startling discovery gives the case a fighting chance. But the team's digging uncovers a conspiracy that could threaten the future of the entire district. With the fortunes of the county, and Thaddeus's own future, on the line, he struggles against shady dealings and his own conscience.