London's social season is in full swing, and Victorian aristocracy is atwitter over a certain gentleman who claims to be the direct descendant of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Adding to their fascination with all things French, an audacious cat burglar is systematically stealing valuable items that once belonged to the ill-fated queen.
But things take a dark turn. The owner of one of the pilfered treasures is found murdered after the theft is reported in the newspapers, and the mysterious thief develops a twisted obsession with Lady Emily Ashton. It takes all of Lady Emily's wit and perseverance to unmask her stalker and ferret out the murderer, while faced with a brewing scandal that threatens both her reputation and her romance with the dashing Colin Hargreaves.
When Lady Emily Ashton, an unconventional young widow, comes to London for the social season at the start of Alexander's highly enjoyable late Victorian novel of suspense (the sequel to And Only to Deceive), a presumptive heir to the French throne and a slew of robberies by a thief obsessed with Marie Antoinette soon become the talk of the town. The stakes rise after the murder of one of the thief's victims. As Emily risks her reputation to solve the crimes, she must contend with a mysterious beau, who woos her in Greek. The author deftly works in background material pertinent to Emily's life as well as period detail that never slows the narrative. Emily sometimes behaves in unlikely ways (e.g., visiting a man at his bachelor residence, getting on a first-name basis with a woman after a brief acquaintance), but readers looking for a lighter version of Anne Perry will be well rewarded. (Apr.)
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January 07, 2008
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