It's 1896 in British Columbia, and a young police officer is working a case that’s deeply personal to him.
Called to a murder scene in his hometown of Victoria, DS Edwin DesRosiers discovers the body of his very first lover, Victoria Crosse, apparently strangled with a black stocking. Two prostitutes have recently been killed in a similar manner, but Edwin doesn’t think Vicky’s death fits the pattern. A strange tattoo found on her back offers a clue to his assistant, Reggie Thirkstan, the indolent son of a wealthy family passing time until he marries. Vicky had been a model for Edwin’s artist mother, Naomi, who’s painted nude portraits to help support the two of them since the death of his lawyer father. Naomi has an opium habit and relies for her supply on their servant, Wong, whose disappearance is another case for Edwin, along with that of a young servant girl who’s vanished. Meanwhile, Edwin can thank Reggie for an introduction to the lovely and adventurous Emily Carr, who may not mind that Edwin is a policeman with Jewish/Catholic roots and slim means. Edwin’s search into Vicky’s past to see if something she was involved in since they last met led to her death yields some very surprising results.
The latest from veteran Allin (Contingency Plan, 2012, etc.) is a mediocre mystery whose historical information makes it worth reading.