It’s 1900, and as Claude Monet toils to capture the light that sifts through London’s fogs, a darker artist plies his grisly trade a stone’s throw away.
The fatal stab wounds on the two unknown women fished from the Thames are the least of their outrages. Both of them have been savagely attacked in ways that make even veterans like Inspector William Garrety blush. Their killer, for all his ferocity, is closely linked to the Savoy Hotel, with a client list even more exclusive than the aging French painter who’s become a riverside fixture. Garrety is equally stymied when his superiors warn him off Oliver Craston, a junior diplomat at the Home Office who’s become friendly with Monet’s son Michel. As he flounders about trying to find a lead he’ll be allowed to pursue, he’s drawing ever closer to the criminal—but that’s only because the criminal, in the guise of one Dr. Cavendish Bolitho, is drawing ever closer to Aline Garrety, who, frantic to conceive after four years of childless marriage, is the obvious next target for a man who preys on vulnerable women in need of sympathetic therapy for medical problems Victorian society deems as unmentionable as his own attacks.
Tacking between aesthetic sublimity and human depravation, Jakeman (Death in the South of France, 2001) provides a strong brew for readers willing to accept a revered artist whose past is nearly as disturbing as her killer’s.