The seventeenth novel in Anne Perry's acclaimed William Monk series
1864 - Monk and his wife Hester are doing their best to care for Scuff - a homeless boy slowly recovering from a terrifying ordeal at the hands of Jericho Phillips, the runner of a child prostitution ring. Although Scuff's evil abductor is dead, there is no suggestion that the ring has been broken and Scuff is certain that more children are suffering an even worse fate.
Monk is determined to find the remaining children and uncover, once and for all, the men funding the operation. And when the body of small-time crook Mickey Parfitt washes up on Mortlake's shore, it fortuitously points him in the right direction. But as Monk's investigation continues, the reputations of respected gentlemen, including Arthur Ballinger, father-in-law of Monk's friend Oliver Rathbone, start being called into question and his task becomes fraught with unforeseen dangers.
In an illicit world of blackmail, vice and corruption, Monk must follow the trail - and his conscience - wherever it leads, no matter how disturbing the truth may be.