When Catherine Andrews learns that her sister Pandora has died mysteriously while visiting their estranged mother Althea (who deserted them as babes for an opera career), she sets off for Italy immediately, vowing to plumb the mystery whatever the danger. The first endangered item is her rosy picture of her father: it seems that old mum is not as black as she's been painted, and Catherine's beloved dad was a tyrant who wished to stifle Althea's art and make of her a mere hausfrau. The second danger, of course, is the chance that Catherine will pay with her own life, for not only Pandora but another daughter has already died--Lillian, Althea's adopted daughter, an opera singer who burnt to death in a ghastly freak accident onstage during a rehearsal of Macbeth. And how do the numerous attempts on Catherine's life connect to the legend of the 13 pilgrims who perished underneath the castle in a dungeon no one can find? Even with two handsome, rich Italian men hanging around, only faithful followers of heavy-handed contemporary gothics will stick around to find out.