An addictively readable mystery steeped in the history of 18th-century England.
In 1716, an Anglican, a Quaker and a young Catholic get into a carriage. That’s not the start of a bad joke but the opening of this very fine historical novel. There’s someone else in the coach as well: Hester Kean, a lady-in-waiting who’s headed to York to assist her cousin as she prepares to join the royal court. Making the best of the long journey, Kean befriends a young traveler who introduces himself as Charles Fenwick; he’s returning from France to his father’s estate. Yet when this sundry band arrives in York and finds Charles’ father murdered, Kean is quickly drawn into the mystery—and religious foment—surrounding his death. She won’t have to investigate this crime alone, however; she’s quickly joined by her longtime fellow sleuth (and love interest) the Viscount St. Mars, better known to his fans as “Blue Satan.” This is the fifth book in a series featuring these ingeniously matched detectives, and although readers will surely want to go back and read the first four, they needn’t: This book is so fully conceived and carefully plotted that it stands on its own. Furthermore, it’s historical fiction of the best kind; the period detail isn’t window dressing—it’s intricately woven into the very fabric of the novel. Readers will sense that for every historical detail Wynn mentions, she leaves another five unsaid. Much of this quality derives from the fact that the author has herself traveled in the regions she writes about—and dug through their libraries. Last and best, Wynn’s prose is elegant and focused; when she describes her hero Blue Satan as one who weighs every word, she could just as well be writing about herself. This is her 15th novel, and from its first lines, readers will feel safe in the hands of a seasoned author who’s honed her skills with decades of work.
Mystery fans, history buffs and romance aficionados alike will devour this fast-paced adventure, which is packed with goodies for everyone.