As reluctant inspector of vice, Sgt Campbell Lawless undertakes a reckoning of London’s nighthouses. This is a shadowy nether world of frayed glamour, hypocrisy and double standards, mesmerising and unspeakable by turns.
A Foundation for Fallen Women. An automaton chess-master. An impossible theft.
Lawless is surprised to find himself fascinated by Felix, the forlorn maestro driven by mysterious sufferings to establish this charitable foundation.
Nor does the Scotland Yard man foresee the trail his questions open up. From the erotic booksellers of Holywell Street down the darkening passageways of Haymarket, he discovers ever more backstreet cast-offs and casualties of the high-life bordellos, aided by the literary 9.23 Club, the urchins of the Oddbody Theatricals, and the remarkable Miss Skittles, who has seen both sides.
Every secret he uncovers points to many more covered up. When reputations are at threat, those running the show can be merciless in defending them.
Lawless must unlock the heart of this clandestine network, before he too can be silenced. And Felix’s sad tale holds the key – if only he can tell it in time.