An adroit novel in the “Upstairs, Downstairs” tradition set in 1885 Devonshire, where Lady Iris, of Renstone Hall, has engaged a London detective agency to find her missing daughter Phoebe. The agency sends a pair of bloodhounds: young widow Jasmine Malloy and her handsome coworker James Keeler. When Jasmine’s conversations with a surly Lord Henry, Phoebe’s father, her brothers Robert and Alistair, other family members, and the domestic staff reveal that Hannah, a maid, had also vanished some time ago, she decides to continue her search in London. There, with Keeler’s help, she tracks down her quarry and returns to Renstone Hall just in time for Lord Henry to be discovered on the grounds of the estate, his throat cut. Arrogant Inspector Finch, who heads the murder investigation, seems determined to nail Robert for the killing. Only a court trial in which Robert is defended by that famed barrister Sir Phineas Potter, and much further sleuthing by Jasmine, will finally pinpoint the true killer and eventually provide a happy ending for the object of Jasmine’s search.
A slightly overworked plot and an overextended cast take the edge off both charm and suspense, but there are still plenty of both in this winning story from Peterson (Murder Ad Lib, not reviewed, etc.).