The house of the title is police headquarters for New York's Gas House district, workplace of detective John (Dutch) Tonneman--descendant of the Tonneman family chronicled in this series (The Dutchman's Dilemma, 1995, etc.). Now, it's 1895, and John, along with fellow detective and cousin Bo Clancy, is helping the new police commissioner in his campaign to root out the graft rampant at all levels of the force. A Union Square labor parade, its marchers set upon by thugs, brings John to a chance meeting with pretty Esther Breslau, a young, bilingual, Jewish immigrant smart enough to have won a job as helper to rich bachelor photographer Oswald Cook, complete with a room in his comfortable Gramercy Park house. A frequent visitor there is freelance reporter Robert Roman, who accompanies Esther as she takes pictures in Union Square, capturing some of the violence. Before the day's over, Roman has been beaten to death; the photographic plates have been smashed; John's fallen in love with Esther, despite his Catholic misgivings, and the hunt is on for Roman's killer. Countless minor scams and often vivid characters dot the landscape of the Lower East Side, while John, Bo, and a gutsy Esther work to ferret out the corrupt forces behind the murder. Meanwhile, John makes a discovery about his family roots that could ease the way with Esther, but will it? Despite the weight of its historical detail, scores of minor players, and tiny subplots, this fifth in a series is the best so far--carried along by a comprehensible plot and the vitality of its major characters. Overrich, then, but readable.