Fourteen years after he nearly died in a fire, a troubled young man finds himself in even more trouble.
Everyone assumed that Matthew Firth accidentally started the blaze that drove him deep inside himself and convinced his mother that “Matthew died in that fire, and afterwards she was fobbed off with a cheap substitute” called Mouse. Years after his mother divorced his father, Mouse, meeting Ruth Pyke at a funeral, went to live with her to alleviate her loneliness. Now their second act has ended with shocking suddenness in a car accident that has left Mouse, who was driving, in the hospital, drenched in Scotch and unable to remember what happened, and Ruth dead in the back seat. Mouse insists that he never touched the bottle police found in the car, but his father, investment counselor Robin Firth, doesn’t believe him and returns to London, washing his hands of the boy. When another fire, this one threatening a famous relic in St. Bride’s-in-Malleton, is blamed on Mouse, it’s up to Peter Parsons, the vicar of St. Bride’s, and Robin’s fiancée, Covent Garden dancer Agnes Amory, to figure out whether Mouse is an addled firebug, a cold-blooded liar or the victim of a deep-laid conspiracy.
Bannister plots as dexterously and fleshes out her characters as carefully as if she were developing her long-running Brodie Farrell franchise (Flawed, 2007, etc.).