A missing heir, an estranged family, and a possible poisoner add up to a pretty puzzle for two far-from-disinterested sleuths.
July 1831. Lady Keira Darby and her husband, Sebastian Gage, have been summoned to Langstone Manor in Dartmoor by his maternal grandfather, the Viscount Tavistock, to help find Sebastian's cousin Alfred, who's gone missing. Sebastian was raised at Langstone Manor but hasn’t visited for 15 years. He has traumatic memories of his mother’s death by poisoning and of being bullied by Alfred and his brother, Rory, and disliked by their mother, Vanessa. On their arrival, they learn that Alfred’s disappeared for a day or two at a time in the past, but now he's been gone for 11 days. His grandfather’s been pressing him to marry a well-bred heiress, but Alfred, who’s always been wild, has other plans. Keira isn't surprised to be treated badly by Vanessa; after all, before she married Sebastian, she was the notorious widow of an anatomist who forced her to use her artistic talents to illustrate his textbook (The Anatomist’s Wife, 2012), quite a scandalous job for a lady. Despite her outsider status, she slowly begins to learn more about Sebastian’s family. His father, now a well-known detective, was a naval officer not thought good enough for his mother, who was not the first family member to be poisoned. While looking into Alfred's disappearance, Keira meets Lorna Galloway, the beautiful bastard daughter of a wealthy man who provides her with a cottage on the moors, where she’s known as a hedge witch. Although Lorna disclaims all knowledge of Alfred’s whereabouts, Keira is sure that she loves him and is hiding information. Because the aged viscount is gravely ill, Sebastian is determined to find Alfred dead or alive despite his dislike of his relatives—and dead seems more likely.
Huber (This Side of Murder, 2017, etc.) draws on the beauties and dangers of the mysterious moorlands to provide a fitting setting for a knotty mystery filled with envy, greed, and thwarted love.