Lord Francis Powerscourt emerges from a comfy retirement to solve a murder in Imperial Russia.
Under the influence of charismatic physician Philippe Vachot, Empress Alexandra successfully delivers son and presumptive heir Alexis two years after a 1902 miscarriage. Meanwhile, bubbly young Natasha Bobrinsky, who likes to compare herself to Anna Karenina, excitedly informs her beau Mikhail Shaporov that she’s just secured a position as a lady-in-waiting to the empress. Mikhail is leaving Russia for London, where Foreign Office heavyweights are appealing to Lord Francis Powerscourt to investigate the recent brutal murder of British diplomat Roderick Martin. Powerscourt is reluctant because his wife, Lady Lucy, has prevailed upon him to give up his dangerous avocation of amateur sleuthing (Death Called to the Bar, 2006, etc.). At length, however, he agrees to accompany Mikhail to St. Petersburg, where the duo confronts the inevitable bureaucracy, which professes complete ignorance of Martin’s existence, let alone his death. Unfazed, Powerscourt drags Mikhail to the morgue for some first-hand investigating. Natasha’s revelations become invaluable when the twisty road to a solution involves the volatile political situation and an imminent threat to the royal family. The Tsar himself figures prominently, along with some stolen Fabergé eggs and a duplicitous Major.
The sixth Powerscourt adventure shows wit, panache and a lively sense of history, and is presented with immediacy and authority.