A killer of young women terrorizes 1839 London.
Liberty Lane, a music teacher turned private investigator, is still establishing herself when she suddenly gets two new clients. The first is a young man whose fiancée is missing, the second a gentleman of mystery who wants her to protect the Contessa D’Abbravilla from a dangerous involvement with Price Ernest of Saxe Coburg, who’s visiting England with his brother Price Albert. Liberty and her assistant Tabby, a streetwise girl she’s taken in, have paid scant attention to the awful stories of girls being snatched off the street by men with the heads of bulls driving a black carriage. Now they must consider the possibility that one of the bodies found dead at the base of a well-known monument may be the missing fiancé. Liberty is also busy trying to get close to the Contessa in the hopes of thwarting her plans to talk to Price Ernest, the lover who spurned her. Although the nation is enthralled with the romance between Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Liberty learns that even royal love affairs have diplomatic consequences and fears that neither of her cases may be as simple as she first thought. Since her clients are not what they seem, Liberty must make the most of her social connections to get the information she is discovering to the right people.
Peacock’s fourth (A Foreign Affair, 2008, etc.) is an enjoyable mystery featuring a sprightly heroine and the obligatory period detail.