Victorian London society is shocked by the bizarre killing of General Thaddeus Carlyon during a dinner party at the elegant home of Maxim and Louisa Furnival. Even more shocking is the admission of Alexandra, the General's wife, that she had murdered him in a jealous rage. Meanwhile, Carlyon's sister Edith is convinced that Alexandra had another motive, one powerful enough to save her from the gallows. She enlists the help of stalwart friend Hester Latterly, who brings into the case famed lawyer Oliver Rathbone and ex-police officer Thomas Monk (The Face of a Stranger, A Dangerous Mourning). Together, they delicately probe the lives of the Carlyon family--Thaddeus's father, a retired colonel; his daughter; forbidding mother Felicia; high-strung daughter Isabella, and young son Cassian. The uncovering of Alexandra's secret is slowed by repetitious interviews, constant underlining of the period social mores, and Monk's tortuous exploration of his own past, lost to amnesia after an accident some time back. But the pace quickens as Alexandra's trial draws near, and the story ends in a courtroom drama loaded with vigor, tension, and poignancy--ample reward for the patient reader. Overall: another winner in this fine series.