Corruption. “Like a drop of ink into a glass of clear water, it spreads to stain everything else.” When a vile abuser of the helpless, Jericho Phillips, is finally captured by the River Police after a strenuous chase, Superintendent William Monk hopes Phillips will be quickly brought to justice.
Catching the child pornographer and human trafficker has been Monk’s goal since the death of his mentor and former boss, Durban, both men desperate to put a stop to the vile practices of an industry that feeds on the unfortunate. When Phillips dances free of his fate, ready to ply his evil trade once more, Monk determines to find another way to dispose of his nemesis.
As Monk scours the streets of London for information, little does he know that his wife, Hester, is doing the same on his behalf. Head of a clinic for poor women, Hester has her own contacts in the city, including the help of a willing boy, Scuff, who requests to serve as Hester’s escort through the dangerous parts of the city. After taking Scuff into their home, Hester and Monk are appalled by the boy’s stories of the dire straits for such children in the city.
Meanwhile, solicitor Sir Oliver Rathbone is beset with a moral dilemma. After a recent successful case undertaken at the behest of his father-in-law, Rathbone begins to question the motives of those in high places and their interest in freeing the scoundrel he so ably defended. He fears that some of his contemporaries are hiding their vices behind the guise of respectability.
Formerly a good friend of Hester and Monk, Rathbone’s recent notorious case has put him at odds with the couple. Now Rathbone suspects he may be the pawn of those who would use him to further their own interests. Reluctant to mar the domesticity of his new marriage, Sir Oliver hesitates to confront his father-in-law.
Back in business on the docks, Jericho manipulates his wealthy benefactors and the helpless boys who have no one to protect them. Nobler souls - Hester, Monk, Rathbone, and an assortment of eccentric characters – work at the same time to expose Phillips’ continuing criminal enterprise and the powerful men who feast unabated on the misfortune of homeless children.
Jericho’s unexpected freedom from the consequences of his latest outrage presents the final opportunity for honorable men to expose the depth of corruption in the corridors of power. In a showdown that pits brave citizens and river police against the firmly entrenched villains who profit from human trafficking, the guilty are revealed and the helpless relieved, at least for a time.
Rich in historical detail, the clipped dialect of the uneducated contrasting with the refined discourse of high society, this is a tale of good versus evil, the daring adventures of the River Police and the blind justice of a legal system that “must be for all or it is for no one.”