In the wee hours of the morning one fall day in 1866, a frantic widow visits detective Charles Lenox. Lady Annabelle's problem is simple: her beloved son, George, has vanished from his room at Oxford. When Lenox visits his alma mater to investigate he discovers a series of bizarre clues, including a murdered cat and a card cryptically referring to "The September Society." Then, just as Lenox realizes that the case may be deeper than it appears, a student dies, the victim of foul play. What could the September Society have to do with it; What specter, returned from the past, is haunting gentle Oxford; Lenox, with the support of his devoted friends in London's upper crust, must race to discover the truth before it comes searching for him, and dangerously close to home.