It’s a bad day for royalty when the Price Regent is found in the Royal Pavilion clutching the dead body of the Marchioness of Anglessey.
Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is willing to investigate only when Lord Jarvis, the power behind the throne, shows him an unusual necklace found around Guinevere Anglessey’s neck. Sebastian’s mother had been wearing it when she was lost in a boating accident years earlier. An autopsy shows that Guinevere was killed in London, not Brighton, by poison, not the Stuart dagger in her back. Guinevere was pregnant, but not by her much older husband. Desperate for an heir to cut out his odious nephew, he encouraged her affair with her childhood sweetheart, a penniless French nobleman. With the help of his lover, an Irish actress and French spy who refuses to marry him; his young horse handler, a former thief; and his own contacts, Sebastian finds that Guinevere was last seen going into a tavern in a London slum. Fighting off several murderous attacks, he realizes he has stumbled on a Stuart plot to overthrow the profligate, unpopular Regent. After a series of dangerous adventures, he solves the crime, thwarts the plot and discovers the truth about his mother’s disappearance.
Like Georgette Heyer, Harris (What Angels Fear, 2005) delves deep into the mores of Regency England, but hers is a darker, more dangerous place. St. Cyr is a charismatic hero whose future exploits are eagerly awaited.