A scarred nobleman returning from the war for Greek independence investigates the murders of a neighboring farmer and his son.
It’s the 1830s, and Lord Ambrose Malfine knows all too well how repulsively his adventures in Byron’s Greece have left his face looking. Now, he wants nothing better than to keep to himself in his thousand-acre estate and let the world go by. But the world comes calling with the news that Gideon Crawshay and his son Edmund have been shot to death, presumably by the nameless gypsy the civic-minded local farmhands are lynching when Lord Ambrose encounters them. Reviewing the damning testimony of Edmund’s widow Marie, he concludes: “The gypsy had done it. That was a certainty. Yet there was a faint shadow of doubt.” On the strength of that shadow, he presses Thomas Granby, a farmhand who’s also fought in Europe, to deliver the gypsy from the mob to the nearest magistrate. It’s a decision that will save the gypsy’s life but doom Lord Ambrose to a grisly imprisonment—from which he’ll be rescued by the Crawshays’ mysteriously ladylike governess—and Granby to a more decisive fate.
Jakeman (In the Kingdom of Mists, p. 17, etc.) sets the scene, introduces her appealing hero, and moves the plot along with professional efficiency, though the solution will depend on an extended and suspiciously convenient series of revelations.