Oliver Twist in 1875 Manhattan, post-Tweed but still corrupt--he's sailor Gavin McInnis, sixteen, stranded when he misses his berth back to Scotland. New York attracts him but the choice for a young boy is limited, and he ends up with the Dead Herrings, a boy gang serving the gangsters of the Fourth Ward. One close friend, Digger, who goes to jail with him in a frameup, dies of a blow from the hoodlum chief's cane; Gavin and his other friend Ian, sad and indignant, are finally shaken up enough to rebel and escape. Room for a little romance--a working girl's picnic, Ian's pretty sister, Gavin's first love. Street urchin clinches are ubiquitous and Gavin is at once inexplicably indecisive (he has several chances to get out but doesn't) and overly kind and patient. The shifting characters and scenes of the underworld and the view of historical New York plus some nice period prose sustain interest where Gavin and commonplaces let us down; the overview is positive.