London’s East End, once known for poor boroughs and a derelict rail yard, is enjoying an optimistic resurgence. It’s becoming an affordable option for middleclass residents looking to have their pounds go further. Despite this sweeping out of old rubbish, a cautious step is still advised when passing by a few remaining dark alleys. If only Mary Walsh had listened.
Prophet Brown, a disfigured, pathetic little man, called Detective Inspector Flannel after stumbling upon the body of a young woman in one such alley. Flannel quickly realizes she is not the random victim she appears. Add to that, the crime scene is hauntingly reminiscent of an old unsolved case; a case that almost ended an otherwise brilliant career eight years ago.
For the moment, Prophet Brown is the only solid link between the two cases. He has been in the employ of Lord Alfred Raventhorn, a charismatic and well-connected Member of Parliament for 17 years. Raventhorn is also the very man Flannel unsuccessfully accused of the murders in the previous case. It should be noted here, in the private conversations of those of impeccable character and devoid of a tendency toward exaggeration, remarks have been made regarding the MP's rumored ill treatment of Prophet.
Flannel finds himself navigating a very treacherous course. His superiors have warned him for the last time to tread cautiously around the MP, and the rising tide of the past threatens to pull him under. Reluctantly, Inspector Flannel turns to a most unlikely ally, a reformed pickpocket named Ernie Bisquets. Together they disentangle a mesh of old lies and current clues attempting to bring a ruthless murderer to justice–ignoring the dangerous notion of murder being a carefully disguised trait passed from one generation to the next.
Along Came A Fifer
Ernie Bisquets is a London pickpocket who was quite content with his station in life, until he put his hand in a pocket and pulled out a murder. It was this action that introduced him to the East London Adventurers Club. Murder and villainy seem to tug at the coattails of this unusual group. It's an ugly but acceptable byproduct of their business, but not something Ernie Bisquets was accustomed to. He just stepped off the bus on Conduit Street, after a short stay at Edmunds Hill Prison, and it was the last thing he imagined getting involved with. What confused him even more was why this group of Mayfair swells would require the services of a common pickpocket?
In Along Came A Fifer this question quickly leads Ernie Bisquets, Patterson Coats and the East London Adventurers Club on a dangerous adventure through the streets of London and Paris, exposing the darker side of the art world. Phynley Paine is the beautiful but treacherous antagonist in the story. With ruthless determination she manages to stay one step ahead of the police in her efforts to locate her accomplice, a known London forger. He’s double-crossed her and Phynley Paine has made it very clear that she intends to locate him and retrieve her property at any cost. What she didn’t count on was the intervention of the East London Adventurers Club.
Rook, Rhyme & Sinker
A hoard of ivory chessmen discovered on the Isle of Lewis in 1831 still commands the attention of scholars and museum patrons in modern-day London, but the police are more concerned with the connection a newly discovered rook has with a body that just bobbed up in the Regents Canal.
Just when Ernie Bisquets, a reformed London pickpocket, was settling into his new life with the East London Adventurers Club, his daily routine is interrupted by the apparent suicide of an old school mate. What surprises him even more is the bequeath left to him by the deceased—an old nursery rhyme and one of the lost Lewis Chessmen.
Intrigued over the connection, the group investigates the circumstances surrounding the death. They soon find it was murder, and that leads to the discovery of a lost hoard of these priceless artifacts hidden in a St. Ives bridge. What they don't realize is an unscrupulous antique dealer, who has been searching for this lost hoard for decades, is shadowing their every move.