The Rev. Makepeace Bliss is a disbarred, disgraced doctor who, by the 1830s, has immersed himself deeply into the shadowy and dangerous criminal underworld of waterfront New Orleans. An accomplished petty criminal, he survives by treating bullet wounds, performing back alley abortions, and robbing the above ground tombs in New Orleans’ cemeteries. When not engaged in these crimes, he is a conman who passes himself off as a man of the cloth, supplying laudanum, comfort and reassurance to the rich widows of the Vieux Carré…before he steals their jewels and cleans ot their safes at the moment of their tragic demise.
Fate sends him a strapping young lad, Francois Devol, who was born with a club foot. When he miraculously is able to correct the boy’s disability, Devol swears his allegiance and joins Bliss in his criminal activities. Soon thereafter, Bliss is approached by a rich, newly widowed Grand Dame of New Orleans, Mme. Favreau, who has a chilling criminal proposal of her own. She wants Bliss and young Devol to kidnap her late husband’s quadroon mistress and child and sell them to the slave owner on a distant Georgia low country rice plantation. The mistress, Mme. Passibone, is snatched off the street, but the kidnappers are unable to grab the infant child.
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