Charles Parnell Cassidy is the corrupt political boss of the Labour Party in New South Wales – the kind of boozing, whoring Irish cliché to be found in many novels set in the larger cities of the English-speaking world. Luckily he dies in London on page 21 and we are left only with the adventures of his son-in-law, a lawyer, Martin Gregory, who had been Cassidy’s protégé before eloping to England with his daughter.
Cassidy has never forgiven his act of treachery and makes Gregory his executor as a kind of revenge. The estate consists not just of vast sums of money but a network of criminal connections with which Cassidy has maintained his political power. Gregory flies off to open the can of