Fourteen-year-old John Huffam, the "last male in the Huffam line" is pulled out of school one day by his servant, only to be informed that his father is in debt of 300 pounds for gambling and is going to debtor's prison. His distraught mother and sister have no other means of supporting themselves and must live in prison with him until the money can be raised.
But is the debt real? And who is the mysterious inspector that keeps watching his father? And why does his great-aunt refuse to help his family but offers him a job?
With twists and turns, and a cast of characters that could have been transplanted straight from a Dickens' novel, Avi's Victorian-era mystery is a delight. Black and white illustrations decorate the story and characters. Descriptions of seedy undergound London are to be savored, the smells and sounds are sure to tickle any imagination.
John must seperate lies from the truth, and untangle the web of treason his father and others has created if he is ever to release his family from prison. But first he must learn that no one is to be trusted.