In the thick of World War I, an industrious Scotland Yard detective turns to a group of emancipated women to unravel a complex murder.
London, 1915. Lady Harriet Murcheson may have confessed to the murder of her husband, but she refuses to speak about it to Chief Inspector Beech, demanding a female confessor instead. Immediately thinking of his old friend Dr. Caroline Allardyce, Beech rushes to Women’s Hospital to enlist her aid. Caroline’s suspicion of “sexual violence” shocks Beech. Lady Harriet is taken to Women’s Hospital, and Beech suggests to his boss, Sir Edward, the formation of a special squad to deal with female crime. Once he’s enlisted his old flame Victoria Ellingham and her mother, Lady Maud, along with Caroline, eager young policeman Billy Rigsby, and Scotland Yard veteran Arthur Tollman, a revolutionary new investigative team is born. The initial questioning of the fatalistic Lady Harriet and the household staff indicates that the case is indeed complex: The maid Esme bursts into tears, and the butler takes flight. Polly, another maid, who used to stand guard outside Harriet’s door to protect her from Lord Murcheson, also flees the house. Beech’s initial request leads to the formation of the Women’s Police Service. Its gruff commander, Margaret Damer Dawson, dispatches the ladies of her squad to find Polly, whose account of the crime turns the investigation on its head.
Despite her sometimes heavy-handed prose, Brittney (The Elizabethan World of Nathan Fox, 2018, etc.) plots skillfully and rolls out a terrific cast of investigators, boding well for her proposed series of historical procedurals.