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Heinous murders haunt the poorer streets of Sydney.

Dr. Marcus Learnaby is a loving, caring, highly skilled surgeon to his patients and those who work under him. To his wife and young son, he is a dictator, a martinet of the worst kind.

Could there be an even darker side to the doctor, a side which seeks death and darkness as it hides the truth? Will one detective be able to bring him face to face with his true self and end a long killing spree?

If an injury needs to be done to a man, it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared. – Machiavelli

Chapter One

May 18, 1834: She walked down the narrow sloping road from Upper North Street headed for the flight of stone steps connecting Lower North Street with its higher twin.

After a long, hard night, there was hardly anybody around as the hands on the distant church-tower clock pointed at 3:14 a.m. She longed for her bed – the comfort of a lumpy, horsehair mattress and the tattered sheet and two thin, moth-eaten blankets to cover her, summer and winter.

In her pocket jingled the few pennies she earned this night – not much compensation for the effort, the displays of affection and ecstasy, more pretence for the benefit of the client than reality. But it was all there was to show for a night beginning at a little after 7 p.m. and ending when the last potential client left the streets.

Only the patrolling troopers shared the streets with her now; the patrolling troopers, stray dogs snuffling bins for leftover food-scraps, and howling tomcats on backyard fences.

She moved down the long, twisting flight of steps still damp from the salt spray kicked up by the surf - receding from its high tide of an hour ago. Yawning, trying to ease the pain in her back and shoulders, her eyes not really seeing where she was going, her feet moved by instinct. She would keep her nightly appointment with the dark man in the blacked-out hansom cab, hand over her earnings and receive in exchange a few pennies, enough to purchase a meal at the 'greasy-spoon' stall. She longed for something more substantial, but knew her dreams of a solid meal, a steak in a fancy restaurant were no more than dreams.

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