In Aprial 1868, a number of ships in Boston Harbor lost their instruments together. This caused seven ships to crash and great damage. Officials consider turning to the Harbor Police but one person considers the professors at Massachetts Instrument of Technology which is about to graduate their first class.
Marcus Mansfield is one of the students and the lone student on financial assistance. He listens to the school president telling about a new technology that would combine the city lights in a circut that would save time and expense of having to light each street light individually. The speech is broken up by unionists who claim that this innovation would deprive people of their jobs.
A theme of the novel is advancement in technology with the cost savings but against the loss of jobs.
Another incident causes havoc where the windows in downtown Boston melt. An MIT professor feels that they should investigate since they are the only institute devoted to science and technonoly. However there is distrust and being so close to Salem, some consider science a form of witchcraft.
Marcus and a small group of classmates form a group to secretly find the person causing these disasters.
Fans of Caleb Carr's "The Alienist" will enjoy this novel with its historical, analytical view. The author goes into great detail about the scientific process. Although admirable, with the length of this novel, it slows the story down and this non scientific reader thought all of the details about science to be tedious. A fan of science would probably disagree.
In spite of the excess of scientific fact, the story is enjoyable with the original plot, excellent dialog, comparison of science to witchcraft and historial views.