1897 in New York, someone attacks Senora Isabella Linares, the wife of a Spanish official. They hit her on the head and steal her baby.
The story is told from Stevie Taggert's point of view. Stevie is a former street urchin who is street smart but book ignorant. He is in a team of characters, Sara Howard who totes a derringer and has just opened a private eye business, John Schuyler Moore, a crime reporter, Marcus and Lucas Isaacson, New York City detectives.
They find details of the kidnapping and have Isobella go to an artest to make a sketch of the attacker. With copies of the sketch the Isaacsons check the police files and find a match for a nurse, Elspeth Hunter, aka, Libby Hatch, who was investigated for due to a number of infant deaths of the same respiratory ailment when the children were in her care. She is questioned and resigned.
The group go to her home. She lets them in but they don't have any evidence of the child. Later Stevie breaks in with a friend who has a dog that can smell scents. They find a hidden room but can't open the door due to the steel frame. The group gets hair fibers that they can identify but need more proof so travel by boat to upstate New York to learn more of Libby's background.
The book goes into such extensive detail that it becomes too long. The slow reading led to less interest in the resolution. It was very historical but the characters were somewhat enjoyable but also rather cardboard figures. Not much character build up but much historical information.
The ending was satisfactory but also a relief to get there.