Alexander Falkland was all things to all people: a devoted son to his titled father, with whom he enjoyed a richly philosophical correspondence on morality and the law; a loving husband to his wealthy wife, Belinda; a generous employer to his loyal servants; a charismatic friend to a wide circle of Regency society -- a debtor whose principal creditor, for instance, just forgave him a debt of Å’30,000. So why did someone brain him with a poker in his study in the middle of a party he was giving upstairs? His grieving father importunes Julian Kestrel (A Broken Vessel, 1994, etc.) to investigate, and within a few days of the week he's allotted himself, Julian has discovered that this paragon was one of the most richly deserving victims he's ever seen. Alexander Falkland emerges as a fascinatingly hypocritical cad; but the revelations come only through an arid series of interrogations -- influenced, it may be, by the endless period mysteries of Anne Perry -- that tax both Julian's charm and the reader's patience. An 1825 remake of Death on the Nile, with enough time for red herrings and subplots aplenty, and two pairs of twins. Despite its ingenuity and its engaging cast, the most conventional of Julian's three adventures to date.