It would prove a major embarrassment to the venerable law firm of Scott, Lye & Mackenzie if old Alexander Lye died intestate. A cursory search of the London home Lye shared with his sister discloses no will among the stacks of paperwork. So after the wake Tom Ansell, an associate in the firm, and his writer wife Helen are packed off to the family home near Ely to see if the document can be found there. Helen, an unusually independent Victorian woman, has a commission from a new publication to write about Cambridge. When they go to Ely to join Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Lye for supper, they chance upon a crowd gathered around a dead body whom Tom recognizes as Mrs. Lye’s cousin Charles Tomlinson. The police arrest Ernest, but further investigation convinces them that he’s innocent, and finding other suspects is no very hard job. Tomlinson had recently returned from many years abroad after leaving university under a cloud. His charm has made him many friends who quickly turn to enemies when they realize he was just using them to pursue his nefarious schemes. Tom and Helen lend their experience with murder in cathedral towns (The Durham Deception, 2011, etc.) to help solve the case.
Interesting information on Victorian funerary customs doesn’t quite make up for a meandering mystery.