Though there are no witnesses and no clues, when Dr. Harvey Burdell is found dead in his lower Manhattan townhouse, fingers point to Emma Cunningham, the refined, pale-skinned widow who managed Burdell's house and his servants. Rumoured to be a black-hearted gold digger with designs on the doctor's name and fortune, Emma is immediately put under house arrest during the murder investigation. A swift conviction is sure to catapult flamboyant district attorney Abraham Oakey Hall into the mayor's seat. But one formidable obstacle stands in his way: the defence attorney Henry Clinton. Committed to justice and the law, Clinton will aid the vulnerable widow in her desperate fight to save herself from the gallows.
Set in 1857 New York, this gripping mystery is also a richly detailed excavation of a lost age. Horan vividly recreates a tumultuous era characterized by a sensationalist press, aggressive new wealth, a booming real-estate market, racial conflict, economic inequality between men and women, and the erosion of the old codes of behaviour. A tale of murder, sex, greed and politics, this spellbinding narrative transports us to a time that eerily echoes our own.