Albert Beauchamp disappeared just before Christmas in 1856. When he reappears more than a year later, he's in several pieces, packed in salt in a shipping crate in New Orleans. NYC inspectors Jasper Lightner and his partner, Hieronymus Law, are called in to investigate—but the further they dig into the wealthy financier's background, the dirtier the story gets. On the surface, Beauchamp had a lot of friends. But, as they discover, each had a good reason to hate him. Beauchamp's last will and testament—stashed away in a safety deposit box, along with a king's ransom in jewels—yields few clues, but Jasper and Hy discover something even more valuable: a little black book filled with names, dates, and a cache of damning details. Following a trail of leads that reaches back to the early 1840s, the detectives uncover a sordid litany of high society scandals that still threatens the city's moneyed establishment. And the shadowy figure who knows their dirtiest secrets re-emerges with a devious new plan that goes far beyond simple blackmail. The dark shadows grow longer as Jasper and Hy close in on the truth—and a killer lies in wait for his ultimate prey.