Half-Russian Charlotte Hammond arrives in St. Petersburg in the 1760s to live with her grandpa, and along the way falls for a magnetic officer who saves her purse from a robber on the quayside. Arriving at the ancestral home, she finds grandpa dead, her cousin Natasha an obnoxious hypochondriac, and Natasha's husband Anton none other than the gallant officer from the docks. Charlotte is soon embroiled with household mysteries and outside intrigues involving Anton's conspiracy--which includes countesses, princesses, and loyal serfs--to depose mad Tsar Peter III (who almost runs Charlotte down in his carriage just for fun). Danger, flight, plots, and dungeons cannot enliven a tale even drearier than its predecessor, Devil Child. The golden cage is gilt, and the bird inside is a turkey.