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The author, a practiced hand at historical romance-suspense (The Black Duchess, etc.), here tries a police procedural set in Victorian Edinburgh, featuring Inspector Jeremy Faro of the City Police. A widower whose medical-student stepson Vince shares his comfortable quarters, Faro is not satisfied that the recent murder of convent teacher Lily Goldie has been solved. She died in the same manner and place as Sarah Hymes, a servant at the convent. Sarah's hotheaded, estranged husband Patrick was found quilty of both crimes but, to the moment of his execution, denied killing--or even knowing--Lily, who was a grasping gift with many suitors. Timothy Ferris, a classmate of Vince's, had committed suicide some weeks before when she scorned him. Now, Faro pursues the case on his own time, aware of his superior's disapproval but buoyed by Vince's support. He talks to everyone who knew Lily but encounters little to confirm his theory. Meanwhile, his barren personal life changes when he meets actress Alison Aird, gifted member of a traveling Shakespearean company. Her response to his infatuation is cooler than he'd like, but her motherly care of Vince after he's attacked by thugs provides a vital clue to the true solution of Lily's murder. A tidy chronicle of Victorian mores and morals, with a less-than-compelling plot and a less-than-charismatic hero. There are further adventures ahead for Inspector Faro, though, which may be more exciting than this mildly diverting debut.

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 1989
Publisher: St. Martin's