A musician has come up so far in the world that he’s quite a determined sleuth.
Winter 1737. Charles Patterson is living with his wealthy and beloved wife Esther in Newcastle-upon-Tyne when the couple and their friend Hugh Demsey, a dancing master, spot a young woman climbing down a rope from a bridge onto the frozen river. Minutes later, they arrive at a shop on the bridge, where they find a terrified young girl screaming and the rest of her family slaughtered. Charles rushes after the departed woman, but all he finds is a tarnished old coin. Because the constable is ill, Charles, who has experience in solving murders, is asked to oversee the investigation. The murder victims are nasty Mr. Gregson, his wife and younger daughter and his apprentice Ned. Missing and presumed guilty is his daughter Alice, who had recently and unhappily returned from London. But Alice’s other sister, Mrs. Fletcher, insists that she is innocent. His investigations entangle Charles with Balfour, the architect for the new assembly rooms; a thief taker who insists the killer is a man he has chased from Kent; and his patron Heron, who becomes obsessed with the ancient coins found in the cellar of a burnt-out building. Apparently he is not the only one interested, since Charles and Hugh are both attacked for the few artifacts they have found. At length Charles must follow Alice to the spirit world to get answers in an exceedingly complex case.
This pleasing latest case for Charles (The Ladder Dancer, 2011, etc.) combines plenty of historical details, a teasing puzzle and a touch of the supernatural.