The healing qualities of Bath’s famous waters are no match for murder.
Sir Robert Kurland was wounded at the battle of Waterloo. When his friend Patrick Fletcher, a former army surgeon, is forced to reopen an infected wound, he suggests that a visit to Bath to soak in the waters will greatly aid his recovery. So Robert’s wife, Lucy, arranges to hire a house, and they proceed there accompanied by Lucy’s beautiful sister, Anna, and Dr. Fletcher and his heavily pregnant wife, Penelope. Their new next-door neighbor, Sir William Benson, a plainspoken Yorkshireman who made his brass in trade, reminds Robert of his own grandfather, a mine owner. To his surprise, Robert finds that the baths are actually helping him. And he enjoys Sir William’s company. As the two families become better acquainted, Lucy gets to know Sir William’s second wife, a much younger woman of great beauty and a dramatic disposition with two sons from a former marriage who don’t get on with Sir William’s three older sons. Arriving at the baths one day, Robert finds Sir William dead, possibly drowned after a heart attack. Then Dr. Fletcher discovers that a wound was the cause of death. The family is in turmoil when Sir William’s latest will cannot be found, and Robert and Lucy, no strangers to murder (Death Comes to the School, 2017, etc.), decide to lend a hand. The likeliest suspects are members of Sir William’s family. His stepsons despised him; his own sons have problems that had greatly annoyed their father; and his wife finds little reason to regret his passing. The next to die is Sir William’s valet, perhaps killed by one of the stepsons searching for the will. Robert and Lucy both have their sources and talents for finding clues, but the family’s litany of lies makes it hard to unearth the truth.
An amusing combination of Regency mores, romantic aspirations, and a clever mystery makes this one of Lloyd’s best.