Who would want to poison the handsome footman? That’s what adventurer and amateur sleuth Atlas Catesby tries to discover at the behest of the woman he loves, Lady Roslyn Lilliana Sterling, sister to the Duke of Somerville.
Catesby is well-born—his father was a famous poet—but of moderate means. He hardly considers himself worthy of Lilliana, whom he helped out of a dangerous situation when he knew her only as an ordinary tradesman’s widow (Murder in Mayfair, 2017, etc.). Somerville summons Catesby to do a favor for Lilliana, whose maid Tacy’s brother, Gordon Davis, has been found poisoned by arsenic. Although Davis’ death has been ruled an accident, Tacy insists that he was murdered by one of his many enemies. Catesby can never resist a difficult puzzle, and a chance to spend time with Lilliana is an added fillip. Davis, who worked at a dye factory that used arsenic, allegedly stole some and took small amounts for his health, although the arsenic found in his stomach was white, not the sooty kind used at the factory. As more of Davis’ activities are discovered, Catesby confirms that there are indeed plenty of motives for murder. Davis was romancing everyone from married women to innocent young girls in hopes of making an advantageous marriage. Catesby and Lilliana must use their diverse skills and contacts to find out just who these women are and whether there is a husband or father angry enough to kill. In the course of their search, they grace the ballrooms of the aristocracy and visit pornographic booksellers. Despite Catesby’s reluctance to woo Lilliana, they’re drawn closer together as they hunt a very angry killer.
A spirited and romantic mystery with a most surprising ending.