Politics, religion and murder in Georgian England.
When Titus Cragg, lawyer and coroner, and his friend Dr. Luke Fidelis (A Dark Anatomy, 2012) are called to the scene of an apparent drowning, they little know that this is just the first in a series of dead bodies coming their way. Innkeeper Antony Egan, the uncle of Titus’ wife, was a drunk, so it comes as no surprise that he apparently slipped into the river and drowned, leaving the inn to his two daughters. Meanwhile, the Lancashire town of Preston is in turmoil over a hotly contested parliamentary election. Followers of the Whigs, who currently hold power, and the Tories, who favor the deposed Stuarts, are willing to do almost anything to get their men elected. Only a small fraction of the locals, and no Catholics, are allowed to vote. So when a wealthy farmer suddenly dies at an inn and Luke proves that he was poisoned, Titus begins to wonder if someone is killing off likely voters. Rumors are spreading that the farmer died of a plaguelike disease; the election may be disrupted if people flee. A serving maid who was turned away from Egan’s inn for loose behavior served the poisoned dish to the farmer, but Titus finds more likely suspects in a political agent and his mysterious aide. Several attempts on his life prove that his investigations have touched a nerve.
Titus and Luke’s second case is a fine mystery, awash in period detail, with enough suspects to make things interesting.