A Regency lady’s reputation hangs in the balance when her checkered past is suddenly spotlighted by a series of vicious crimes in 1831.
Lady Keira Darby, who’s in the early stages of pregnancy, and her husband, Sebastian Gage, are attending a party on Guy Fawkes night whose guests also include Gage’s father, Lord Gage, an inquiry agent to the upper classes. Unable to forgive Keira for her previous marriage to a wealthy, cruel anatomist who forced her to use her artistic talents to illustrate the book he was writing, Lord Gage did everything in his power to prevent the marriage. Keira’s reputation, already damaged by the Burke and Hare scandal, in which criminals killed people to sell their bodies to medical schools (A Brush with Shadows, 2018, etc.), receives another blow when the police arrest a group of body snatchers who remind people of her past. The death of a young man stirs up more animosity, and Keira finds her portrait commissions drying up. On their way home from a society party in a thick fog, Keira and Gage can barely discern two figures fighting. As Gage chases one of them, Keira finds the dead body of Lord Feckenham, eldest son of the Earl of Redditch. London reels in horror from the new cases of “burking,” and the idea that even the upper classes may be in danger sends a frisson of fear through the city. Keira and Sebastian, convinced that they must investigate before Keira’s reputation is irretrievably ruined, realize that Feckenham, who had an evil reputation, was killed not for his body but for reasons more obscure. The fatal stabbings of several other young men of similar circumstances force Keira to face her true feelings about her past.
Based on a true story, thick with period ambience woven into a knotty mystery. Just the right read for a foggy night.