An aristocratic Regency sleuth asks who murdered a man everyone hated.
Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is strikingly handsome, clever, and no stranger to murder (Why Kill the Innocent, 2018, etc.). Despite his checkered past, Bow Street Magistrate Sir Henry Lovejoy often asks his help in cases involving the upper classes. Anthony Marcus Ledger, Viscount Ashworth and heir to the Marquis of Lindley, has been found naked, murdered and tied to his bed by silken cords. If Ashworth hadn’t been married to Devlin’s niece Stephanie, Devlin would have gloried in his death since he already suspected Ashworth of unspeakable crimes and his deviant sexual practices were well-known. Although she’s the mother of Ashworth’s twin boys, Stephanie has little to do with him, and her wild nature leads Devlin to fear she may have killed him. The discovery of Ashworth’s missing valet naked and dead in a nearby alley only complicates the case. Devlin’s investigations have often been aided by his wife, Hero, a reformer whose own father, Charles, Lord Jarvis, is cousin to the profligate prince regent and the power behind the throne. Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia recently arrived in London scheming to marry the regent, but they took an instant dislike to each other. Still, Russia continues to meddle in the prospective marriage of the regent’s daughter, and Princess Ivanna Gagarin’s been involved with Ashworth since her arrival with the Grand Duchess. Although politics may have played a part in Ashworth’s demise, Devlin and Hero search for clues among the most squalid stews of London, where Ashworth was known to find women for his sadistic games. There’s no shortage of suspects who hated the wicked Viscount; Devlin’s problem is proving his niece was not the killer.
Fans of this long-running series will revel in the meticulous historical detail along with the twists and turns of a case that reveals the vast inequality in Regency England.