A headless corpse in Huntingdon, the disappearance of a female trial witness, and the apparent suicide of a wealthy railway contractor: if Pyke thought that by leaving the murky world of the Bow Street Runners he could escape the violence of pre-Victorian England, he was very much mistaken.
It is 1834, and with the birth of the Industrial Revolution, railway fever sweeps the country. Pyke is uneasy with the luxury his aristocratic marriage has brought him, and when he is asked to unofficially investigate a decapitation in Cambridgeshire, he can not resist the chance to resuscitate the old skills he learned on the streets. But with the industrial world, comes a new and faceless enemy: men who have money and power, and who will stop at nothing in their pursuit of both. For Pyke, with his young wife and child and an elevated place in society to protect, the stakes have suddenly become alarmingly high. From the sweat shops of the east end to the palace of the Queen-in-waiting; from the elegant drawing rooms of the newly rich, to the blood-spattered backrooms of London's taverns, Pyke's investigation stirs up a hornets' nest of trouble. As the death toll rises, his wife becomes involved with the radicals' fight against the industrialists, and an alluring woman from his past returns to threaten the life he has made for them both, Pyke must adapt to the ever-changing world around him and draw on all of his resources if he is to protect his family, and survive.