The great metropolis of London swaggers with Regency abandon as nineteen-year-old Will Starling returns from the Napoleonic Wars having spent five years assisting a military surgeon. Charming, brash, and damaged, Will is helping his mentor build a medical practice -- and a life -- in the rough Cripplegate area. To do so requires an alliance with the Doomsday Men: body snatchers that supply surgeons and anatomists with human cadavers. After a grave robbing goes terribly awry and a prostitute is accused of murder, Will becomes convinced of an unholy conspiracy that traces its way back to Dionysus Atherton, the brightest of London's rising surgical stars. Wild rumours begin to spread of experiments upon the living and of uncanny sightings in London's dark streets. Will's obsessive search for the truth twists through alleyways, brothels, and charnel houses, towards a shattering discovery -- about Dionysus Atherton and about Will, himself.