A physician and a coroner must make do with rudimentary crime-solving tools in 1604 England.
Dr. Gabriel Taverner and his clever sister, Celia, have set up housekeeping together after an accident ended his career in the Navy and a murder changed her circumstances (A Rustle of Silk, 2017). They’re both worried about their friend Jonathan Carew, the vicar of St. Luke’s, after they notice a few moments of blankness on his face during his Sunday sermon. But Carew denies any problems, and Gabriel’s energies are redirected when coroner Theophilus Davey asks him to examine a body found in a shack. The young man with fleshy lumps that might be leprosy apparently died of natural causes. The only clue found on the body is a partial sketch on fine paper of a beautiful face. Soon the dead man is tied to a burglary attempt at Wrenbeare, the large but neglected home of the Fairlight family, who deny that there was an intruder. Lady Clemence Fairlight is the widow of Sir Thomas, with whom she had two daughters who also live at Wrenbeare along with the older one's husband. At length Carew asks Gabriel to help him uncover five stunning stained glass panels that were at one time in the windows of St. Luke’s Little Chapel. During the days of Henry VIII, vast numbers of religious houses and artifacts were destroyed, and even now there is still some danger in displaying the windows. A sixth panel of a later date is a powerful image of a naked man worshiping a stunningly handsome naked angel. The horrible death of Lady Fairlight brings the varied problems together, forcing Gabriel and Theo to dig in the present and the past to uncover a shocking story.
Plenty of historical detail and a twisty story make the second in Clare’s new series a step up from the first.