A sixth chapter in the Tonneman family history (The House on Mulberry Street, 1996, etc.), set this time in 1864, toward the end of the Civil War. It's nearing Election Day in New York City, and Police Chief Hays Tonneman, along with Mayor Gunther and Army General Dix, has been alerted to a Rebel plot to burn down the city on that day. There is indeed such a plot--named Lucifer--spawned in Kentucky by the Southern Confederacy and headed by Lieutenant Colonel Robert Martin. He and his seven co-conspirators have arrived in New York and settled in a house on Cay Street--only to find the local papers trumpeting their secret plan and treating it as a contemptuous political ploy by the Democrats to defeat Lincoln's bid for reelection. Martin, his paymaster John Price, his New York contact Eugene Longmire, and the others decide to go through with their plan anyway, but not until after the election. The fateful day is November 25. By then paymaster Price is dead; Longmire has absconded with much of Lucifer's expense money; others have died, their throats slit and matchsticks lodged in their teeth; romances have flourished--with a local whore and an aspiring actress--all of it to end with a whimper, not a bang, and with the spy inside the group finally revealed. The role of reporter Peter Tonneman, of the New York Evening Post, is sidelined in this sprawling, meticulously researched but overpopulated and unfocused saga, leaving only the vibrantly alive depiction of 1864 New York to compensate the history-minded reader.