A Philadelphia socialite and her hesitant suitor team up to solve a crime in the latest from Biddle (The Conjurer, 2007, etc.).
Wealthy heiress Martha Beale met mayor’s assistant Thomas Kelman when they investigated her father’s murder. Soon they’re using their talents to delve into robbery and kidnapping among the cream of Philadelphia society, like Harrison and Georgine Crowther, whose daughter Dora is soon to be married to Percy VanLennep. When they both disappear, the outcry is prodigious, and Thomas, who specializes in handling high-profile crimes, is called in to inquire into the circumstances. The parents’ insistence that the couple hasn’t eloped is supported by the arrival of a ransom note. Martha visits the Crowther home both with Thomas and on her own to support the spirits of the devastated parents and bring her own special talents to the hunt. Crowther goes to deliver the ransom money to the doorstep of a house of prostitution. But the private agent he’s hired scares away the street urchin who tries to pick up the payoff money, and soon thereafter Dora’s body is found buried in a coal heap. Although the urchin’s father is a prime suspect, the secrets the Crowther and VanLennep families are hiding may provide other motives.
Martha’s second case develops her love life and offers more mystery than her debut, along with a wealth of period details.