Cambridgeshire, 1824. London dandy Julian Kestrel finds himself invited as best man to the wedding of a virtual stranger, Hugh Fontclair, whose bride, Maud Craddock, has been forced on him by her parvenu father's undisclosed hold on the high-and-mighty Fontclairs. It's an explosive situation, even before Julian discovers an unknown dead woman decorously tucked into his bed at Bellegarde, the Fontclair country seat--and his valet Dipper, a former cutpurse, accused of murder by the local magistrate, Sir Robert Fontclair. Who is the victim? How did she get into the house? What does her death have to do with the secret that Mark Craddock knows about the family? And how can Julian vindicate Dipper without accusing the family of the local law or bringing his man before the Bow Street Runners, who know his past all too well? Most historical mysteries drown in period detail, but this first novel by Boston attorney Ross subordinates its authoritative grasp of manners, language, and history to an expertly spun-out series of riddles. Whodunit is only the climactic revelation in a tale that crackles with contemporary tension.