A Dragon statue. An ancient sword.
What treasure is worth killing for?
It’s 1927 in Victoria, Australia. A hedonistic time after the Great War when young people knew they could enjoy life without the threat of war hanging over them. A time when women have more options opened to them.
Alexandra Thornton was born in to a wealthy pastoralist family, who made their money on the land, the Victorian goldfields and in antiques. Alexandra decides to break the news to her father that she wants to be an antiques dealer, like him, her grandfather and great-grandfather before her.
There is a weekend house party at Thornton Park and Alexandra thinks it will be a good time to speak to her father.
Only a small number of people are invited. Amongst the guests is Zhang Huo, the Chinese antiques dealer who, with his son, has brought a Ming dragon statue from China for Thomas Thornton.
Benedict Archer, who is manager of Thornton Antiques in Melbourne and who has been secretly helping Alexandra learn more about her family business, is also invited. Alexandra asks Benedict and Edith Blackburn, her friend since childhood, to be with her when she approaches her father.
When Edith claims that Benedict is in love with her, Alexandra can’t believe it. In all the time they’d been at Thornton Antiques together, he’d never said a word. Can it be true?
The first evening starts well with the unveiling of the Ming dragon statue. Love blossoms when, dancing after dinner to the melody of Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust, Alexandra looks at Benedict in a new light.
The next day, Thomas Thornton shows Mr Zhang the items that his grandfather, Thomas Senior, brought from Hong Kong. The Antiques Dealer’s interest focuses on a sword and he insists it should be on display. It has a dragon’s open mouth on the hilt as if it’s about to swallow the blade. Mr Zhang claims the sword is Yazi, the dragon who likes to kill.
Then a body is found in the orchard, the Ming dragon has blood on its claw and, before the weekend is over, a priceless artefact is stolen.
Alexandra is determined to discover how the Ming dragon is connected to the antiques her great-grandfather brought with him from Hong Kong so many years ago.
As layers of the mystery are peeled away, Alexandra uncovers an eighty-year-old secret but it is soon apparent that her life is in danger.