On a dull and dreary October day, Lori Shepherd and her husband Bill set off for the historic town of Rye, in the southeast coast of England, for a quiet weekend together without the kids. Bill must first pay a visit to a reclusive client--but after Lori drops him off, the storm that's been brewing intsensifies so much she ends up stranded in an ancient, rambling inn called the King's Ransom, in a tiny attic room up a creaky (and creepy) set of narrow stairs. When Lori begins hearing footsteps and strange noises in the night, Aunt Dimity reminds her rather tartly the inn is almost certainly haunted, but that not all ghosts have any interest in harming the living, don't you know.
But the longer Lori is stuck at the inn, the stranger things seem. She learns that the inn's name comes from a king's ransom in smuggled goods that passed through the village in ages past, and that the inn's winding hallways connect to a network of smuggler caves and tunnels. And then there's the inn's hulking, grizzled cook, a mute ex-con named Steve who seems to be everywhere at once. Are the noises she hears the spirits of smuggling's past? Or should Lori be more concerned with the living inhabitants of the inn? Joining forces with her new friend Bishop Smallwood, Lori sets out to discover once and for all who--or what--is haunting the King's Ransom.