A marriage made to save a family’s fortunes comes to a quick and unfortunate end.
Lady Julia Renshaw knows she has to marry a wealthy man to keep up the family estate even though she’s in love with someone else. Her sister Phoebe urges her to back out of her engagement to wealthy Viscount Annondale, who wants to produce an heir with an aristocratic wife. But Julia insists that if she can provide an heir and inherit the estate, the family will be secure for life once her much older husband passes on. She tells Phoebe that unless she marries well, their younger brother, Fox, will be unable to maintain the estate and provide for them. Strangely, Annondale insists that the wedding reception be held on the yacht named for his first wife and docked at Cowes. After a catered meal, he quickly dismisses his guests except for those who will accompany the couple on their honeymoon cruise: his sister, Veronica Townsend; his best man, Sir Hugh Fitzallen; Mr. Mowbry, the wedding photographer; and Annondale’s cheeky secretary, Mildred Blair. When Julia arrives at her family’s hotel in the middle of the night with a badly cut hand and a story of Annondale’s accusing her of flirting with the photographer in front of the crew, her sisters and her loyal former maid, Eva, realize that the honeymoon has well and truly ended. Julia returns to the yacht to find Annondale missing. When his body washes up near the yacht club and blood is found on the railing, she’s arrested for his murder. Both Phoebe and Eva have experience in solving mysteries (A Devious Death, 2017, etc.), and since they know Julia’s innocent and the police aren’t looking for other suspects, they plan to use all their sleuthing skills to find out who else wanted Annondale dead.
Maxwell, who always puts an interesting spin on her country-house mysteries set between the great wars, delivers once again in this tale of love, hate, revenge, and country houses in peril.