A jaunty Regency mystery--with romantic underpinnings, a high-spirited cast, and some delightful research into the period's theatrical lows. A pretty young ""actress,"" Imogen Reese, has been murdered; and so her friend, lovely widow ""Signora Katarine"" (nÃ‰e Katherine Kenwood), has hired a gumshoe of the Bow Street police to investigate. The prime suspect is Francis Mervyn, secretary to Charles, fifth Earl of Moriston. Did Francis return Imogen's adoration with a bludgeon? Not so, believes Charles, who, with lordly elegance, will spearhead some sleuthing of his own. Among the Earl's helpers: younger brother John; sister Lady Sarah; Sarah's husband Captain Adam; and Katherine herself, a prima donna of hammy Robert Ellison's Olympic Theatre (where the hilarity includes an onstage corpse who sneezes, a mustache inhaled, Shakespeare set to music, or a wheeled version of the Armada plunging into the orchestra). Between the footlight follies, Charles and his amateur detectives--some on too loose a rein--locate the mysterious, kind ""protector"" of Imogen, identified only as Mr. C.; they uncover blackmail which involves the theft of precious illuminated manuscripts; they conduct interviews with Imogen's bitter sister Olivia Iredale (and her husband, a most unhappy man of the cloth); and they arrange deceptions which enchant the puzzled Moriston butler. Drawing-room conferences, theatrical boffos, and satisfying round-ups: bright period fun decorating a not-too-taxing mystery.