Gentleman detective Charles Lenox lets politics distract him from his third case (The September Society, 2008, etc.).
Christmas 1866 is very merry indeed for Lenox, comfortably ensconced in an elegant London townhouse with his brother Sir Edmund, a member of Parliament, and his fiancée Lady Jane Grey. The holiday is rather less happy for Simon Pierce and Winston Carruthers, murdered in their homes within minutes of each other on Christmas night. The only link between the two journalists is apparently a story about treason published decades ago. Lenox offers to assist Scotland Yard in the investigation but is distracted by the news that a close friend’s wife has suffered a miscarriage. Then, in the middle of the investigation, Lenox dashes off to stand for Parliament, aiming to represent a small town in the north of England he’s never clapped eyes on. Aided by his faithful valet Graham, he spends nearly a fortnight glad-handing and bribing the locals while leaving most of the detective work to his apprentice Dallington, an aristocratic young fop. The police track down one of the murderers, a small-time thug named Hiram Smalls, but Smalls is killed in prison, leaving behind a cryptic note that merely deepens the mystery. Fortunately, Lenox loses the election and returns to London, where a sudden flash of insight leads to a climactic confrontation with a murderous mastermind.
Disjointed, with a shockingly poor grasp of the Victorian milieu, especially in the prolonged discussions (by men!) of pregnancy and miscarriage.