A Hansom cab driver unravels the secrets of a lost Spanish galleon.
When one of his fares vanishes, Ned Parker is pulled in by Detective Sergeant Jackson to identify the murdered body. Ned’s old dad, who owned his cab before him, had a dangerous sideline keeping the police informed about the doings of London’s many criminal gangs, and Ned has inherited his nosy disposition. When a fellow driver is arrested for the murder, Ned, enlisting the help of throngs of his fellow cabbies to help prove his innocence, quickly finds his own quiet life is no more. Threatened by two rival gang leaders, Mr. John and the Colonel, Ned tries to placate them with tidbits of information while avoiding the police. In his spare time, he investigates the theft of some silver candlesticks, becomes a reader at the British Museum, tries to form a cabdrivers’ union and watches with mixed emotions as his girlfriend Millie seeks to conquer the London stage. His strangest adventure takes place in a closed Underground station that holds the secret of a long-missing Spanish treasure ship. When all Ned’s investigations turn out to be intertwined, he’s lucky to escape with his life.
King’s departure from his Gourmet Detective series (Dine and Die on the Danube Express, 2003, etc.) offers, with a bit more history than mystery, an intriguing look at the life and times of an 1870 London cabbie.