The glamour of the Raj comes to rural Yorkshire.
An early morning phone call from her cousin James sends Kate Shackleton, a private investigator with society connections, to Bolton Abbey, the 50,000-acre Yorkshire estate of the Duke of Devonshire. The marital status of the duke’s guest, Maharajah Narayan, hasn’t kept him from visiting Yorkshire with his mistress, Lydia Metcalfe, whose farming family lives nearby. While he was out riding, Narayan shot a white doe, then rode on and vanished. Soon after Kate’s arrival, the body of a groom who was with the maharajah is found drowned in the river. The India Office, where James works, is doing its best to cover up Narayan’s affair and possible marital plans with a highly unsuitable woman. When Narayan’s body is found the next day, hidden in the woods, Kate doubts the story that his horse reared and the gun he was carrying accidentally went off and killed him. Despite her best efforts, the inquest returns a verdict of accidental death. But since an extremely valuable diamond has gone missing, the India Office still wants Kate to keep an eye on Lydia, who, unworthy of accommodations at Bolton Abbey, is staying in Kate’s hotel and may have stolen the gem. When a flock of Indian princes arrives for Narayan’s funeral, several unpleasant complications suggest that Kate’s been correct in her assumptions—if only it’s not too late to right a wrong.
The latest retro tale from Brody (A Woman Unknown, 2015, etc.) is based on snippets of real-life characters, so one of her best mysteries gains further depth from its historical context.