A daring pair of Regency sleuths tackle a series of coldblooded murders.
The Earl of Wrexford met Charlotte Sloane when they were forced to work together to solve a dastardly crime (Murder on Black Swan Lane, 2017). Wrexford is a wealthy, easily bored aristocrat with a scientific bent. For her part, the mysterious Charlotte, under the nom de plume A.J. Quill, which she took over from her late husband, uses her artistic talents and sharp wit to sell her satirical drawings. When Wrexford and his friend Christopher Sheffield stumble over the brutally murdered body of well-known inventor Elihu Ashton, he can’t refuse the widow’s request to find the killer. Isobel Ashton suspects that her husband’s killer wanted to steal the rights to his new invention, which could make the first person to file a patent very wealthy indeed. Charlotte, meanwhile, is moving to a larger house in a better neighborhood along with Raven and Hawk, the chief boys among the street urchins she uses to keep up with the latest gossip and misdeeds that provide grist for her satires. After Wrexford enlists Charlotte’s network to help track down Ashton’s killer, their suspicions are divided among the widow, who is stunningly attractive but amazingly cool; Ashton’s secretary and assistant; and investors hungry to enrich themselves. Gabriel Hollis, who had something to do with the note that lured Ashton to his death, is the next to die. Although the murders have been set up to look like the work of a group of radical workers whose jobs have been taken over by machines, the sleuths feel more personal relationships hold the key to the case.
Penrose deftly combines a Regency romance with a tricky mystery that delves into social unrest and the darker side of this storied period.