Books by Kate Ross

Released: Sept. 1, 1997

Milan, 1825. As the ascendant Austrians and the Bonapartist Carbonaris struggle for control of northern Italy, every box at La Scala is abuzz with the revelation that Marchese Lodovico Malvezzi's death four years ago was actually murder—a murder the marchese's family and friends concealed, with the help of the authorities, in order to prevent the presumed assassin's Carbonari cohorts, emboldened by their success, from further attacks. The suspect himself—an English singer called Orfeo, someone the marchese had taken on as a protÇgÇ—has been missing for four years, as have Orfeo's beloved, gardener's daughter Lucia Landi, and Antonio Farese, the servant to his blind singing teacher. Now that a deathbed confession to the deception has made the murder public knowledge, Julian Kestrel (Whom the Gods Love, 1995, etc.), passing through Milan with his pickpocket-turned- manservant Dipper, is eager to offer his services to the local commissario (who declines the offer with alacrity) and the marchese's beautiful, enigmatic widow Beatrice (who accepts the offer, though frustratingly refusing to accept Julian's attestations of love). The questions to be answered—who killed the marchese? was the motive politics, revenge, or blackmail? whatever became of Orfeo, and has he returned to the scene of the crime? which characters will turn out to be Bonapartists?— guarantee an exceptionally generous unfolding, replete with dramatic episodes, false confessions, and explanations, explanations, explanations. Not a crossover novel, despite its length, but an authentic triple-decker mystery for admirers of P.D. James. (Author tour) Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 1995

Alexander Falkland was all things to all people: a devoted son to his titled father, with whom he enjoyed a richly philosophical correspondence on morality and the law; a loving husband to his wealthy wife, Belinda; a generous employer to his loyal servants; a charismatic friend to a wide circle of Regency society—a debtor whose principal creditor, for instance, just forgave him a debt of ú30,000. So why did someone brain him with a poker in his study in the middle of a party he was giving upstairs? His grieving father importunes Julian Kestrel (A Broken Vessel, 1994, etc.) to investigate, and within a few days of the week he's allotted himself, Julian has discovered that this paragon was one of the most richly deserving victims he's ever seen. Alexander Falkland emerges as a fascinatingly hypocritical cad; but the revelations come only through an arid series of interrogations—influenced, it may be, by the endless period mysteries of Anne Perry—that tax both Julian's charm and the reader's patience. An 1825 remake of Death on the Nile, with enough time for red herrings and subplots aplenty, and two pairs of twins. Despite its ingenuity and its engaging cast, the most conventional of Julian's three adventures to date. (Author tour) Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1994

Who was the anonymous damsel in distress who wrote the pleading letter streetwalker Sally Stokes inadvertently pinched from one of her three clients one evening? For that matter, which client's handkerchief contained the letter, and how can Regency dandy Julian Kestrel, the gentry-cove for whom Sally's brother Dipper works, identify the letter's author, its intended recipient, or the man who stole it? With his customary aplomb, Julian traces the author to oily Rev. Gideon Harcourt's Reclamation Society, but by the time Sally's ready to go undercover as a soul ripe for reclaiming, the still-unnamed author has been fatally poisoned, giving still another twist—and not the last—to the mystery. Not the equal of Julian's masterful debut in last year's Cut to the Quick—the coincidences are unbelievable, and the climax drags on intolerably—but it does prove that the sparkle of the earlier novel was no fluke, and makes you wonder if Julian might be the most likeable and accomplished historical detective since Brother Cadfael. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1993

Cambridgeshire, 1824. London dandy Julian Kestrel finds himself invited as best man to the wedding of a virtual stranger, Hugh Fontclair, whose bride, Maud Craddock, has been forced on him by her parvenu father's undisclosed hold on the high-and-mighty Fontclairs. It's an explosive situation, even before Julian discovers an unknown dead woman decorously tucked into his bed at Bellegarde, the Fontclair country seat—and his valet Dipper, a former cutpurse, accused of murder by the local magistrate, Sir Robert Fontclair. Who is the victim? How did she get into the house? What does her death have to do with the secret that Mark Craddock knows about the family? And how can Julian vindicate Dipper without accusing the family of the local law or bringing his man before the Bow Street Runners, who know his past all too well? Most historical mysteries drown in period detail, but this first novel by Boston attorney Ross subordinates its authoritative grasp of manners, language, and history to an expertly spun-out series of riddles. Whodunit is only the climactic revelation in a tale that crackles with contemporary tension. Read full book review >