As his rise in the legal profession accelerates, Edwin James seeks to further enhance his prospects by obtaining a seat in Parliament. However, James finds that he must first act as an election agent in what is quickly seen as the most corrupt election in mid-Victorian England. In spite of the powerful backing of senior politicians, including the Prime Minister Lord Palmerston, he finds he is still dogged by old scandals and unforgiving enemies. Burdened by increading debt, James is suspected of being involved in the mysterious death of an old enemy, Lord George Bentinck, and the apparent suicide of the greatest swindler of the day, banker John Sadleir. As he reaches the heights of his profession and finally obtains his seat in Parliament, he finds he is still tainted by the breaths of suspicion that might yet bring about his downfall...