A photographer and sometime sleuth dances with death when she searches for a missing infant in Victorian England.
Following her triumph in discovering the identity of Jack the Ripper (The Ripper’s Shadow, 2017, etc.), Sarah Bain and her pal Hugh, an aristocrat exiled from his family because of his homosexuality, are the proud partners in a thriving photography business. But they’ve found a good deal less success with their “private inquiry service” despite their alliance with Mick, a resourceful street urchin who lives with Sarah and is freely dispatched on special assignments. When her long-lost father, Benjamin, turns up on the fringe of one of her photographs, Sarah is prompted to delve into his past. Learning that he was the prime suspect in a decades-old murder, she feels compelled to discover the truth. Close on the heels of this discovery, a pair of Sarah’s recent clients who turn up dead seem to be connected to Robin Mariner, a missing baby believed to have been kidnapped. Sarah’s initial efforts at ferreting out her father’s history hit firm resistance, but she fares far better with the Mariner family, who mistrust police and hire her and Hugh on the spot. Complicating matters is Sarah’s romantic relationship with Barrett, a rising star on London’s police force who’d surely disapprove of her sleuthing. The closer she gets to the truth, the more she puts her life, and those of her loved ones, in danger.
The plot of Rowland’s second Victorian mystery is a bit overstuffed but boasts a winning team of outsider heroes and a colorful first-person narrative.