Sir Charles Voisey, the traitorous head of the Inner Circle whose plan to overthrow the Crown Superintendent Thomas Pitt outwitted but could not checkmate, is back with another load of mischief, running for Parliament from the historically Liberal bastion of South Lambeth. Pitt's superior, Assistant Commissioner John Cornwallis, can't imagine how Voisey will defeat his Liberal opponent, Aubrey Serracold, but smelling a rat, he keeps Pitt from leaving on his well-earned family vacation to Dartmoor and sends him instead to the new antiterrorist Special Branch, where "he was seeking not to solve a crime but to prevent a sin" by keeping one eye on Voisey's rise and the other on Serracold's possible weaknesses. No sooner does Pitt settle into the impossible task of helping prevent Voisey's election than a job presents itself for which he's much better suited: the murder of spiritualist Maude Lamont, who had been holding regular seances with Serracold's wife Rose, Major General Roland Kingsley (already the author of a full-bore attack on Serracold), and a tantalizingly elusive third party indicated in the medium's appointment book only by a cartouche. Realizing instantly the dangers to Serracold, Pitt follows a lead to Cartouche-only to set off a fiendish Inner Circle trap designed to discredit him as well. How can he possibly restore his reputation, save his family, and preserve England as he knows it from a bounder like Voisey?
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