A locked-room mystery disrupts a prestigious London department store, an insular world of salacious secrets.
April 1914. The House of Blackley is in the midst of a fashion parade for Lady Ascot when disaster threatens via the absence of nonpareil mannequin Amélie Dupin. Nervous new staffer Arbuthnot is dispatched to her rooming house, where the starchy landlady, Miss Mortimer, helps him gain access to discover Amélie strangled with a red silk scarf. The door is locked from the inside, and the room's only other occupant, a monkey, apparently the lone suspect. Meanwhile, at New Scotland Yard, unconventional DI Silas Quinn of the Special Crimes Department (Summon Up the Blood, 2012, etc.) suffers a dressing down from the commissioner, Sir Edward Henry, for his maverick ways and a rebuff from Sir Edward's secretary, Miss Latterly, whom he fancies but is too shy to court. The Dupin killing falls to Quinn to investigate. Once inside the murder scene, Quinn impresses new colleague DCI Coddington with his Sherlock-ian observations, though disapproving rival DS Inchball is loath to give credit where credit is clearly due. Quinn begins to question the colorful Blackley staff, but the escape of the monkey and a fatal melee triggered by a false cry of "Fire!" sets him back, calls him onto Sir Edward's carpet again and threatens his career. The lengthy coroner's report casts the case in a new light: Quinn discovers bitter rivalries, hidden identities and more murder on the way to finding Amélie's killer.
A nifty period whodunit packed with flamboyant characters and brisk dialogue.