Ancient sapphires provide the motive for several murders.
Society sleuth Jack Haldean’s friend Isabelle Stanton soon rues the good deed she does by helping out a Frenchwoman overwhelmed with caring for her children on a train trip to London. On the way to wash up the little girl, Isabelle encounters a terrified man in the doorway of a compartment. He’s just discovered a headless body hanging out the window and a beautiful sapphire necklace on the floor. Inspector Rackham, who’s sent to investigate, is joined at the station by Jack and by Isabelle’s husband, Arthur. Inspecting the unidentified man’s belongings reveals a picture of Mrs. Frank Leigh, of Breagan Grange, wearing the necklace, which she inherited from a Mrs. Paxton, who’s apparently been recently poisoned by her nephew, Terence Napier, who’d revealed to her that the son she had thought died in the Great War was a deserter living in Paris. Mrs. Paxton is related to Frank Leigh, but the precious stones, which had originally been found in an ancient cave on the Breagan Grange property, have been left not to Frank, but to Evie, his second wife. Certain that his nephew Terence is innocent, Francis Leigh has already hired a private detective but is eager to procure Haldean’s help as well. Both the police and Jack are sure they could solve the case if they could only identify the dead man, but that proves to be much more difficult than they imagined.
Gordon-Smith, who specializes in classic British mysteries set between the wars (Trouble Brewing, 2012, etc.), poses a complex mystery designed to keep you and his clever sleuth guessing.