Wisdom is better than rubies", the dry and repressive Reverend Septimus Wood tells his students in the wet and foggy London of 1829. But who at the age of nineteen will believe him? Certainly not Lord Horatio Carlton and his friend Arthur Marshall, two boys full of jokes and fun. But things take a more serious turn when they find themselves in prison on a charge of burglary. How on earth did they get there? Yet their brief stay in Clerkenwell Gaol is only the first in a series of strangely interlinked events which will change their lives. Did Arthur ever think he would meet Frank Hoskins, "fence", police agent and charmer, and that they would become friends? Did Horatio ever dream he would one day have a man's life in his hands, a man to be charged with murder? Can Arthur ever tell what he knows about a sensational burglary and - worst of all - can he save a friend from the gallows? As they venture through the world of nineteenth-century London, seven years before the Victorian Age is to begin - a world of journalists and politicians, scholars and artists, prize-fighters and gamblers, burglars and confidence tricksters and pickpockets - the pressures increase, and they begin to wonder: can it be, after all, that wisdom is better than rubies? Their earlier laughter has vanished as they see themselves confronted with a devastating tragedy. Can they avert it?
The story is told many years later by eminent criminal barrister Adolphus Winterbourne, who is writing his memoirs....
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A fictional recollection of events as witnessed by barrister Adolphus Winterbourne, and as experienced by his nephew Arthur Marshall and his friend Horatio Carlton in 19th Century London. The tale, said to have been based on events as reported in The Times in 1830 (reference the Maria Wallace hoax), is narrated by Winterbourne who defended both Arthur & Horatio, when a series of misfortunes befall the two naive young men. Once the hoax has occurred, the story starts to pick up and you are drawn into 19th Century London, its seedy underworld where theft was rampant, its class system defined by an influx of immigrants, and the development of the fledgling police force under Robert Peel. Of the real crime itself, I could find little - which is a shame as this would have been most interesting to read. ~~~ Melisende