It's the fall of 1863, just a few months after the New York draft riots. Charles Bergman, an English banker, visits New York City for the first time. But his goal of recovering money lost in a railroad swindle is quickly abandoned as he discovers the opportunities--both financial and romantic--that the city offers.
Charles lives for the day, whether the day brings a pretty girl to his bed or the proceeds from 20 tons of stolen Union artillery rifles to his bank.
The story is about privilege and ethnic tension, and how some very sophisticated thieves spend their money. It's about social and religious conventions, how a gentleman ought to behave, and why he can't marry the woman (or women) he loves.
For some people, the Civil War brought prosperity. For some, moral ambiguity came hand-in-hand with a sophisticated lifestyle, complete with wine, women, and song, uncomplicated by any second thoughts.