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    October 1812: Britain and France are still at war. France is engaged on two battle fronts -- Spain and Russia -- and is growing weaker by the day. Napoleon Bonaparte, in command of his eastern army, is camped beneath the gates of Moscow and about to embark on a catastrophic winter campaign two thousand miles from home.
    Abandoned by their emperor, the French are suffering. Support for Bonaparte and his enthusiasm for foreign conquest is waning. There are severe food shortages; crime is rife; the country is on the verge of bankruptcy. The civilian population has grown weary of the fight. So have many of Napoleon's senior generals. Rebellion is brewing; and not for the first time. Since Bonaparte appointed himself First Consul, there have been several attempts to either kill or overthrow him. All have failed, so far ...
    Bow Street Runner Matthew Hawkwood is summoned to Bow Street, where the Chief Magistrate, James Read, tells him he is being seconded to a special Home office department. There, he meets the urbane Henry Brooke, Superintendent of the Alien Office. Paid out of Secret Service funds, the office is responsible for the activities of British agents on the continent. Brooke informs Hawkwood that he is to be sent to France on a special mission. His fluency in both French and Spanish and his background as an army officer are to be put to use. He is to travel to Paris where he is to make contact with an agent working for the British government.
    Brooke's agent has come up with a daring plan and he needs Hawkwood's help to put it into action. If the plan is successful it could lead to a negotiated peace treaty between France and the allies. Failure would mean prison, torture and a meeting with the guillotine ...

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