Nell Bray wasn’t one of the militant suffragettes who planted a bomb in David Lloyd George’s house—in fact, she was identified on the scene because she tried to stop the bombing—but now she’s threatened with prison unless she accepts an unusual mission from the charismatic Chancellor of the Exchequer: to worm her way into the confidence of barefoot society dancer Oriana Paphos and discover the whereabouts of a cache of politically indiscreet letters Lloyd George is convinced Paphos and her oily manager, Leon Sylvan, have stolen. Since the letters have already caused the death of one would-be recoverer, and the dancer is something of a magnet for unwary males, Lloyd George is convinced that Nell is just the person to look for them at a private staging of Strauss’s scandalous opera Salome that Liberal publisher Jack Belter, avid for a title, is staging to lure La Paphos back to England. But the minister’s commission makes Nell uneasy for another reason as well: How did His Majesty’s Government get such precise information about the bombing? In addition to recovering the compromising letters before they can be sold to a swaggering Germany, Nell vows to identify the police agent who’s infiltrated her suffragette circle. Nell’s seventh (Dead Man’s Sweetheart, 1996, etc.) takes a charmingly retro premise—the fatal letters—and fills them out with colorful characters, false situations, and surprises galore in her sharpest, most ambitious case yet.