A string of fires along the Thames rattles both Scotland Yard and the venerable House of Lords.
The first blaze, which levels a single warehouse, worries Inspector Sam Blackstone (Blackstone and the Golden Egg, April 2005) just because it was so amateurish. Only one building was destroyed, and the badly spelled note demanding £100,000 to head off more destruction suggests something more sinister than the usual firebug. The second leaves a host of clues in and around the burned-out Dutch cargo ship, including a body that points Blackstone to the Austro-Hungary Club, where foolish gamers rack up ruinous debts—including a mysterious punter the bar girls call “Lord Moneybags.” Could Moneybags be a member of that august body divided over the Boer War and debating whether to give in to a lunatic’s ransom demand—a controversy that pits the Minister of War, Lord Lansdowne, against his Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury? It’s up to Blackstone, with the help of Sergeant Patterson and forensic pathologist Ellie Carr, to find out pronto in order to prevent a national disaster, and more importantly, to keep his obnoxious boss, Assistant Commissioner Sir Roderick Todd, from booting him off the force and into the workhouse.
Politics as usual—both local and international—keeps Rustage’s, or Spencer’s, latest transgendered entry simmering nicely.