Dan Leno, the great music hall comedian, was known in his lifetime as 'the funniest man on earth'. So how could he have been involved in one of the most curious episodes in London's history when, in a short period during the autumn of 1880, a series of murders was attributed to the mysterious 'Limehouse Golem'?
In Peter Ackroyd's novel the world of late-Victorian music hall and pantomime becomes implicated in a number of sinister scenes and episodes, and the connection between the light and dark sides of nineteenth-century London begins to attract such contemporary figures as George Gissing and Karl Marx. But there are also less well-known characters who play a significant role in the narrative. What, for example, is the secret of Elizabeth Cree, about to hang for the murder of her husband?