Who killed the cleric in the crypt?
When the 1812 renovations to St. Margaret’s, Tanfield Hill, accidentally bash a hole through the sealed entry to its crypt, there are two ghastly surprises. The dead body of Bishop Prescott, staunch abolitionist and leading contender for the soon-to-be-vacated post of Archbishop of Canterbury, lies sprawled across yet another dead body, this one partially mummified with a jeweled, Italianate dagger in its back. Bow Street, recognizing a matter too delicate for its own clumsy hands, calls upon Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin (Where Serpents Sleep, 2008, etc.). Within the compass of a few short weeks the aristocratic sleuth is shot at, horsewhipped, attacked with a meat cleaver, half-drowned and forced to kill three men himself. Undeterred, he accepts the responsibilities of fatherhood that have been impending ever since his reckless night with stubborn feminist Hero Jarvis, whose father had good reason to want Prescott dead; uncovers enough illegitimacies to keep the Town atwitter for generations; suspects both his father and Hero’s of treason in aid of the colonies; and finds time to visit a prescient nanny-turned-witch who has secrets to impart about his own parentage.
The mystery includes a smattering of political and church intrigue among a welter of family ties so intricate that a scorecard might have helped.