A bookish undercover reporter teams up with quirky gentleman to uncover the truth behind the suspicious drownings of several young ladies in late-Victorian-era London.
After his fiancée, Fiona, is pulled from the inky Thames, Anthony Stalbridge must endure rumors that his imminent jilt caused her suicide. An independent thinker wealthy enough to know that his standing in society is assured, Anthony is driven less by concern for his reputation than by his growing suspicion that Fiona was murdered. His digging leads him to a party at the mansion of high-profile investor Elwin Hastings, whose wife Victoria also plunged into the Thames. There, Anthony crosses paths with Mrs. Louisa Bryce, a bespectacled, unfashionably dressed young widow (and proto-feminist) who believes Hastings is a partner in a well-known brothel catering to respectable gentlemen’s darker impulses. The two forge an unlikely alliance, and Anthony finds himself increasingly fascinated with the elusive Louisa. It turns out that she is secretly I.M. Phantom, popular columnist for a tabloid dedicated to scandal among the upper crust. She is also, under her glasses and plain gowns, quite a sexy minx. Mistaking her for a woman of the world, Anthony attempts an al fresco seduction, only to discover that she is not as experienced as he thought. His miscalculation matters naught to Louisa, who gamely throws herself into their “illicit” affair. In fact, she is almost disappointed when Anthony introduces her to his charming, unconventional family. Could he possibly have real feelings for her? Meanwhile, bodies connected to Hastings pile up as the lovers get close to some very shady characters in organized crime, and Louisa has even more surprises in store for Anthony.
Quick (Second Sight, 2006, etc.) does it again with a naughty-and-nice romp.