A detective in Victorian England takes a case involving several renowned and infamous literary figures.
Charles Maddox has taken over the detective agency once run by his famous great-uncle, who now suffers from age-related mental illnesses. Charles is hired by the son of the famous poet Percy Bysshe Shelley to find and acquire some family papers they believe to be in the possession of Claire Clairmont, stepsister to Mary Godwin Shelley. To his surprise, Charles discovers that his great-uncle had once worked for the Shelley family, though the usual meticulous notes he took are nowhere to be found. Charles finds a way to get into Claire’s house, but when she catches him reading her papers, she tells a totally different story than the one he had from Percy, his wife and Mary Shelley. Like his great-uncle before him, Charles becomes ensnared in the family’s horrifying story. But finding the truth proves to be elusive. Did Shelley cause the death of his first wife and some of his children, or was it Mary? Both she and Claire, who was also mistress to Lord Byron, were madly in love with the poet, and it seems that Mary would do almost anything to keep him by her side. When Charles does find his uncle’s papers, they provide answers and raise even more questions about the tragic history of the haunted poet.
Lynn (The Solitary House, 2012, etc.) takes the familiar story of the Shelley family and fills in the holes in the historical record by turning it into a clever, imaginative and literate mystery.