It should be a simple and prestigious job for two London private enquiry agents: At the prime minister’s request, they are to transport a satchel to a courier waiting in Calais. But when the agents are Caleb Barker and Thomas Llewelyn, it’s no surprise that mayhem, sabotage, and even murder will ensue.
Readers who have followed this lively, intelligent series (Blood is Blood, 2018, etc.) know that nothing is straightforward where the gruff Barker is concerned. And now that young Llewelyn has been made a partner, he too can question the motives behind the request. After all, it’s 1892, and spies and political plots are rife across Europe. And if the contents of the satchel are indeed priceless religious manuscripts meant for the Vatican, the agents know others will want them, too. Using everything from ties to the Knights Templar to a savvy gang of street urchins, the duo will have to outguess and outmaneuver every other player. The author is so talented that the novel works both as an enjoyable romp and as a comment on Victorian issues both societal and political. He weaves in history—London especially comes alive—without it seeming like clumps of a school lesson and gives just enough background so that new readers aren’t lost in arcane references to past events.
Even the most observant reader will be surprised at the final twists and turns and hope for another case soon.