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November 1849, the year he is fourteen, the year his father is sentenced to
London's Whitecross Street Prison.
Maybe the man following John -- who claims to be one Inspector Copperfield --
can explain why. Surely, Pa isn't prepared to reveal the truth, any more than
the jovial bailiff, Mr. Tuckum, who knows something, but remains mum. Or the
little Frenchman, Mr. Farquatt, who courts John's sister but seems most keen on
Pa's work at the Naval Ordinance Office. Or Mr. O'Doul, the Irishman who
insists Pa owes him the unimaginable sum of three hundred pounds.
Or what of the one-legged, single-mindedly fierce Sergeant Muldspoon, John's
teacher? What about the boy's great-great-aunt, Lady Euphemia Huffam, who could
pay the debt but won't for reasons of her own? What about the secretive Mr.
Snugsbe of All Hallows Church, who hides himself away in the City's most
Then there's Chief Inspector Ratchet of Scotland Yard, who is after somebody
for some crime or other. True, John has a new friend and ally in Sary the
Sneak...but what has even she got up her sleeve? What John learns on his own is
that there's a traitor on the loose, somewhere. And he must uncover the
villain -- no matter who it might be.