The explosion was heard 20 miles away. It killed canal boatmen and wrecked the exotic Pompeian villa of Lawrence Alma-Tadema, the fashionable St John's Wood artist. But what caused the 1874 Regent's Park Explosion? Fenian bombs or sabotage by rival railways or other firms? Or was it something personal?
And whose was the woman's body found in the canal? An artist's model? The missing King's Cross barmaid? Or another victim of the so-called Thames murderer?
As he struggles to find the answers, Scotland Yard's Sergeant Ernest Best straddles the conflicting worlds of art, wealth and privilege and that of the poverty-stricken canal boatmen in an intriguing mystery that will change his life forever.