Gabriel Carver, the convict hangman of Sydney Prison, knows that none of his kind may depart Australia’s penal colony without the system’s leave. Then three people are murdered, seemingly to protect the “Rats’ Line,” an illicit path to freedom that exists only in the fevered imaginations of transported felons. But why kill to protect something that doesn’t exist?
When an innocent woman from Carver’s past is charged with one of the murders and faces execution at his hands, she threatens to reveal an incriminating secret of his own unless he helps her. So Carver must try to unmask the killer among the convicts, soldiers, sailors, and fallen women roaming 1829 Sydney. If he can find the murderer, he may discover who is defying the system under its very nose. His search will take him back to the scene of his ruin—to London and a past he can never remake nor ever escape, not even at the edge of the world.
“Baltakmens, echoing the voices of 19th-century masters like Conrad and Melville, combines adventure and mystery in a high-stakes tale of class, morality, and justice.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Gabriel Carver is a great character, and Baltakmens’ style is intelligent and evocative.” —Historical Novels Review
“The story is a page-turner, a savory treat to be devoured.” —Foreword Reviews
From Andrei Baltakmens, author of The Raven’s Seal.
Andrei Baltakmens was born and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand. He holds doctorates in English literature and creative writing, and is the author of numerous short stories and three novels, including the historical mystery The Raven’s Seal (2012). He has lived in Ithaca, New York; Brisbane, Australia; and now makes his home in Palo Alto, California, with his wife and son.