City of the Absent begins with a murder and ends with the main character being arrested for another murder, one which he wanted to commit but didn't. The first murder is that of the mayor of Chicago and occurs on the last night of the Columbian Exposition in 1893. When a female Pinkerton operative is killed shortly afterward, police Inspector Alastair Ransom swears to find her killer. Soon, however, Ransome finds himself being pulled into an intrigue which can result in nothing short of his own death and nothing good for his associates. Haunted by past deaths for which he feels morally--if not actually responsible--and because he's bent, if not actually fractured the law in previous cases in order to dispense justice, Ransom has to watch his step as his own police chief, as well as certain other influential citizens and the head of the Pinkerton Agency seem bound and determine to bring him down. At last, it appears they have succeeded when he's arrested for a murder and his attorney is soon after poisoned and hospitalized. This is a dark but entertaining tale which, except for the mention of Mr. Edison's electrical inventions and the "new-fangled telephones" Hansom cabs. etc., could be contemporary in its storyline. Public officials are corrupt and doing everything to maintain their power, including ridding themselves of anyone who is an obstacle; undercover private police are killed in the line of duty; priests are accused of improper behavior with their acolytes; derelicts are being killed and their organs removed for sale--not for transplantation, however, but for study. My only argument with the story is that it ends on a cliff-hanger. Since this is the third in a series, I hope the next one has already been published for I'd certainly like to find it and discover if Ransom escapes the noose waiting so patiently for him and brings his accusers to justice. He's such a vibrant and determined character, I'd hate for this to be his ignominious end.