When a master thief escapes from prison, detective Bettina Rothschild must put him back behind bars before the scandalous fiasco destroys the Ministry of Justice. Her investigation leads from decaying cemeteries where ravens conspire to warehouses where wondrous machines are built in secret, and even to the fabled Drifting Isle above the city of Eisenstadt where an ancient tomb hides a deadly secret.
The relentless chase proves taxing for a young woman who relies on her cane and her steamcarriage to get about, but that's where a good husband steps in. While Bettina picks locks and interrogates suspects, her beloved Arjuna defends her from the most brutal and bizarre assassins in Eisenstadt.
But as the clock ticks down, Bettina finds too many questions still remain. How did the thief escape from prison? How can he afford to hire so many killers? And why would he go to the Drifting Isle only to steal a giant beetle?