It’s 1774, and a child killer prowls the streets of London’s tenderloin.
Jeremy Proctor, the narrator and young protégé of blind barrister and renowned sleuth Sir John Fielding, reaches maturity in this tenth series episode and, appropriately, takes a more active role than in earlier investigations (An Experiment in Treason, 2002, etc.). But the case is an unhappy one, especially considering Jeremy’s impending nuptials. While his longtime love, Clarissa the housemaid, plans for the wedding and nervously prepares to step temporarily into the shoes of the vacationing cook, Jeremy probes the drowning of young Maggie Plummer, pulled from the Thames as the latest in a string of recent victims. His first task is finding Maggie’s indigent mother Amanda, who’s so elusive she must be involved in the crime. Amanda’s pompous brother Deuteronomy offers a hand in locating her, but he too seems duplicitous. Traveling with Deuteronomy leads Jeremy to apparent chicanery at the racetrack and a singular horse called Pegasus. And Clarissa’s intense interest in wagering on the races is just one of a handful of unattractive new traits in his bride-to-be that give Jeremy pause. It takes the brilliant Sir John, working at the 11th hour, to reshuffle the seemingly disparate pieces of the puzzle into a surprising but rational explanation.
Alexander balances darker narrative colors and a deeper look at series characters with a satisfying mystery and rich period authenticity.