Detective Briony Williams is a rookie appointed to an all-male team investigating a bizarre murder at the Anatomy School of Gresham College in Bloomsbury, and her superiors constantly make her feel left out. But a killer obsessed with following Jack the Ripper soon changes that.
The killer is a practiced anatomist with a theatrical streak. He arranges his victims' bodies in cruel parodies of famous satirical engravings by Hogarth, in particular The Reward of Cruelty. He sends a perfectly extracted eye to the police in a Tupperware container, with a defiant message. Meanwhile the killer has begun to track his next victim.
He is planning a reunion with the schoolgirl who found the body of his first victim in a train carriage on her way home from boarding school. The story of this girl, Nell Adams, forms the second strand of a brilliantly interwoven plot as she moves to London to start her studies at university and is pursued by the man who becomes known as the Walker. With an unerring eye for detail and a sharp turn of phrase, Jane Goodall creates the exuberant energy and the sense of possibility in these young women and in the Swinging 60s generation as a whole. And she counterpoints it with a bizarre story of ritual cruelty and the dark underbelly of London, steadily increasing the tension in a novel that is totally engrossing and a remarkable dramatic debut.