William Clarence Verity is a sergeant in Scotland Yard's 'Private Clothes Detail'. His beat is the underworld of Victorian London - as seething maze of alleys and bordellos, peopled with sneak thieves, thugs, murderers and their doxies. From far-off Bengal there comes to Verity a tantalising hint of major crime in the making. Despite his superiors' instructions, Verity determines to run the plotters down. And there begins a battle between Verity's sturdy resolve and the devilish cunning of his unseen adversary: Lieutenant Verney Dacre, retired officer of cavalry, woman-beater and gentleman cracksman. The stakes are Verity's career - indeed his freedom - and half a ton of bullion.