It's a long way from sheltered Ebury Street to the disreputable neighborhood of St. Giles, but solicitor Leighton Duff and his son Rhys must have had their reasons for making the journey--though those reasons may never be known, since Duff has been beaten to death in Water Lane, and Rhys, beaten nearly to death himself, can't gesture or speak. What brought the two men to St. Giles? Who beat them so savagely? And what do they have to do with a series of equally brutal rapes of neighborhood factory women moonlighting as prostitutes? Having posed these tantalizing questions and having set Crimean veteran Hester Latterly to nursing Rhys and inquiry agent William Monk on the trail of the rapists, Perry switches gears to mellifluous outrage, railing inertly against the hypocrisies of Victorian gentlemen who insist on proper wives while taking their pleasures wherever they find them, and fuming about the impossibility of winning a prosecution for rape. When the rapes and murder converge with Monk's mounting evidence--evidence indicating that Rhys was one of the rapists and that he killed the father who was trying to stop him--the stage is set for one of Perry's uniquely unconvincing trial scenes. But Hester manages to spring a climactic surprise as stunning as it is unlikely. As overblown as any of Perry's recent historical forays (Weighed in the Balance, 1996, etc.), but fueled by the painful intensity of Rhys Duff's silent cry.