It's Boston, 1870. News of the untimely death of Charles Dickens reaches his American publisher. James R. Osgood, a junior partner there, had been expecting the arrival of the latest instalment of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, now Dickens' last work, to arrive shortly. Suspicious of unscrupulous New York publishers and their ruthless agents intent on stealing Dickens' novel, Osgood sends his trusted young clerk, Daniel Sands, to await its arrival. When Daniel's body is found by the docks, the true cause of his death unknown and the manuscript nowhere to be found, Osgood must embark on a transatlantic quest to unearth the rest of Dickens' final mystery and solve another of his own. Danger and intrigue abound on his seaward journey, especially once he discovers that Rebecca Sands, Daniel's sister and bookkeeper for Fields & Osgood, has stowed away in order to help clear her brother's name. Arriving in Britain, Osgood and Rebecca go to Dickens' home, where his possessions are about to be auctioned off; they plunge into the world of London theatres, the seedy, dangerous streets of the East End.