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Thomas Kitson, one-time metropolitan art critic, arrives as the battlefields of the Crimea as the London Courier’s man on the ground. It is a dangerous place and the last thing the commanding officers want is a newspaperman getting in the way, asking difficult questions. Then he is witness to an act of unbelievable treachery and betrayal and, as Sebastopol burns, Kitson flees to England, trying to escape the atrocities he has seen. Desperate for normality, he takes up the only position on offer, becoming a ‘street philosopher’, reporting on the Manchester scene for the society pages. But, as Manchester prepares to welcome Queen Victoria on the eve of the great Art Treasures Exhibition, the past catches up with Kitson and he finds himself under threat from old friends and new enemies alike .