A boy in London's Limehouse witnesses a crime and is caught out, but that proves to be the least of his troubles.
Amid the squalor of London's East End in the aftermath of the First World War a boy embarks on his rites of passage. With his father damaged by shell shock and his mother a victim of the recent epidemic, Malcolm struggles to survive life on the mean streets and finds more adventure than he bargains for.
After one of Malcolm's more colorful mentors is murdered, he is approached by the victim's niece to help unmask the killer. He is drawn to Katja but her association with volatile characters causes him doubt and conflict.
An eccentric aunt convolutes his life even more with her bohemian ways and her involvement in the political intrigue and conspiracies that are rife in London.
International issues come to bear on the murders at hand. What chance has a thirteen-year-old against the power of the megalomaniac who emerges from the shadows to threaten Great Britain's foreign relations? In the den of iniquity that is Limehouse, London's Chinatown, can a boy his age bear the weight of such responsibility?