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In 1884, Gilded-Age New Orleans, Chief of Detectives Dawson Shaughnessy, still recovering from the recent murder of his fiancée, investigates a string of bizarre and brutal homicides through the highest levels of robber-baron corruption, presidential politics, and American law enforcement's first encounter with an entity they know only as la Mafia. But time is running out for Dawson and his brother Michael. After staggering forth from the ruins of the Civil War and recent elections putting her under the thumb of the corrupt political machine known as the Ring, the fate of “this red-dressed bitch” New Orleans hangs on the success of the party she’s throwing for the entire world. Her Centennial Exposition is coming, the world is arriving, even as unknown killers stalk her streets. Until, as the clock ticks down, and the brothers descend deeper into their quagmire—a mysterious railroad, with ties to the murders, being built through nearby swamps known as Satan’s Necklace; a beautiful young Sicilian princess, fleeing the same murderous brigands that took her family and childhood home from her, and now pursues her; and a most unusual man, already cloaked in wealth and power, but who wants far more, who talks with kings, and who just may have figured out how he might one day rule the world—time has run out.