Twelve years after middle-German Prince Friedrich abdicated his throne to marry Gisela Berentz, and four months after the Prince died following a fall from a horse, his intimate friend Countess Zorah Rostova retains Sir Oliver Rathbone, Q.C., to prove her innocent of a charge of slander. The Countess's proposed defense: What she said, publicly and repeatedly, was true--Princess Gisela really did murder her husband. Retaining inquiry agent William Monk (Cain His Brother, 1995, etc.) to gather evidence for the Countess's allegation, Sir Oliver soon finds that there is no evidence. By all accounts, the Prince and Princess were remarkably devoted to each other, and the rumors of a movement to return the Prince, unencumbered by the Princess his mother so disapproves of, to his throne and to a fight for independence from the surrounding states only points suspicion everywhere but toward the Princess. In fact, as Sir Oliver discovers when he's dragged into the Old Bailey, the evidence of fatal poisoning is far less strong against Princess Gisela than against his own client. It would be ironic if the key to the mystery lay with Robert Ollenheim, the paralyzed young patient of Hester Latterly, the nurse Monk cannot help loving--and a coincidence only Perry's most devoted fans will accept. Indefatigable Perry serves up as arresting an opening as ever--she may write the strongest first chapters in the business--before miring her sleuths in endless dully civil conversations with titled nonentities and in a farcically incompetent trial that Sir Oliver should have tried even harder to avoid.