It is the mid-1800s and the streets of London are lawless. Three "Detective" friends Vidocq, Field and Hablot Brown return from Southport proud of themselves for saving Louis Napoleon from arsenic poisoning. They are joined on their steam train journey back to London by their friend Police Matron Ruth Atkinson and her young son Johnny how have been to an aunt's funeral in Liverpool. Whilst there Ruth has heard about a human trafficking ring with a route through Europe to Constantinople apparently led by a foreign diplomat, London Beadle and corrupt policemen. Disguising herself as an expectant unwed mother Ruth uncovers a terrible case of "baby farming" whereby women pay for their illegitimate children to be cared for by seemingly respectable women only for them to die at a young age of starvation, sickness or simply murdered to save the money.
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