A veteran Bow Street Runner like Henry Morton has few illusions about what passes for a constabulary in early 19th-century London. He knows how undermanned the Runners are, how haphazardly they've been organized, and how slipshod daily operations can be, though he also knows that in a basically rotten barrel there are a few good apples like himself. Still, that doesn't mean he's averse to padding a needy exchequer with the occasional private job. When Miss Louisa Hamilton offers him 400 pounds—"a good year's income"—to look into the mystery surrounding her fiancé's death, he leaps at the opportunity. It doesn't take him long to become convinced that young Halbert Glendinning was a homicide, deftly poisoned. Soon thereafter, however, he realizes he's stirred up a hornet's nest. Young Glendinning's murder is connected to diverse forms of wickedness, not the least of which is the unabashed corruption stemming from #4 Bow Street. But Henry Morton is the stuff of bulldogs. With the help of celebrated actress Arabella Malibrant, as bright as she is beautiful, and as adorable as she is wayward, he persists in his investigation, wriggles free of a dastardly frame-up, faces down a cold-blooded band of assassins, suffers insults, indignities, and aristocratic stonewalling, takes his lumps, and gets his man.
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