London: the early 1840s. The birth of the young Queen Victoria's first child is taken as an auspicious sign for all. But on a cold March night, a spree of dark crimes in shadowy workhouses shocks the city.When Inspector Owen Endersby, of the recently formed London Detective Police, learns that the string of identical murders and abductions have all taken place under similar circumstances, he fears a monster is prowling the city. How long until the murderer strikes again? Is this the work of a diabolical killer, or a madman with confused motives? Facts are scarce. Endersby and his sergeant, Thomas Caldwell, must start an investigation based on the fitful testimonies of terrified girls and one peculiar clue: a piece of curtain lace found in the throats of the victims.