Eel lives in Victorian London. He makes his way working a number of jobs; working in a tavern, cleaning up for a tailor, taking care of the animals for Dr. Snow and occasionally as a mudlark finding useful things in the Thames. Eel is accused of stealing at the tavern and loses his place. He tries to get the tailor Mr. Griggs to vouch for him and discovers he has the blue death, or cholera. Soon hundreds of people in his neighborhood have gotten sick or died. Eel seeks the help of Dr. Snow to figure out what caused the outbreak and what can be done to stop it.
This book is a fabulous mix of fact and fiction. There really was an outbreak of cholera on Broad Street at this time. Dr. Snow really did figure out the cause and help stop the outbreak. He was the first doctor to link cholera with water contamination. While Eel and some of the others in the book didn’t actually exist, their stories mix very well with the historical facts. This is a very fast-paced book with lots of intriguing plot twists.