In order to save the woman he loves from a charge of capital murder, must a veteran detective reveal their affair?
London, November 1921. DCI Paul Stark is in bed with his secret ladylove, Amelia Fairfax, when she receives a call informing her that her ex-husband, the esteemed Lord Fairfax, has been murdered along with a guest, mysterious American Carl Adams. Stark’s ethical dilemma is made no easier by an anonymous letter he receives identifying Amelia as the killer. Both men were poisoned, and Stark’s superior at Scotland Yard, DCS Benson, points out that poison is traditionally a woman’s weapon. Should Stark provide Amelia with an alibi that would vindicate her while exposing her to social ostracism? The secretary of state, who happens to be Winston Churchill, presses for a quick solution to the case. Deciding that he can’t keep the affair a secret, Stark ends his affair with Amelia for the duration of the case. Meanwhile, Stark’s trusted sidekick, DS Danvers, learns more about sketchy Carl Adams from his own mother, of all people. Stark and Danvers question Noël Coward in his dressing room. Both interviews implicate flashy American movie mogul Edgar Cavendish, who visits Stark at Scotland Yard and dismisses the notion that Adams was the target. It’s all quite the tangled web: catching the killer is only the first step in exposing a dangerous conspiracy.
The second case from Eldridge (Assassins, 2016) features colorful characters, crisp prose, and interesting nuggets of history.