Thomas has been ordered to look back into a three-year-old murder of a Foreign Office dignitary that was never solved. It seems the powers-that-be are concerned about his widow’s marrying a fellow dignitary and want assurances that she’s as pure as driven snow.
Poor Thomas. He has such a high solve rate and his marriage to Charlotte along with his speech and manners mean that he’s often requested to take on cases, which involve the upper classes. It does not mean that he’s supported by his…ahem…superiors. And this case is no exception. A cold case with no forensic evidence and no truly desired ending at least by the Foreign Office.
A man killed in his library with some few things of middling value that never show up in the market. Whispers of a lady in cerise appearing at the murdered man’s home as well as at a close friend’s besides several public places. A lady who has never been seen in the three years hence. Charlotte takes it upon herself to investigate pulling her sister, Emily, in as well to help alleviate Emily’s boredom. George has been dead for six months now and Emily is going mad with staying home observing the period of mourning.
Emily decides to take their investigation several steps deeper and gets herself hired on as a lady’s maid to the widow where she will have numerous opportunities to observe their suspects from behind the scenes. It’s Jack Radley who maintains the connection between Emily and Charlotte. A very necessary aid when Thomas is arrested for murder. And Superintendent Ballarat hangs him out to dry.
Another excellent tale from Anne Perry with an excellent understanding of the culture, mores, and style of speech for the late 19th century in England. She pulls in such a tangle of misdirected love and keeps the reader hopping as we try to determine who did what only to blow us away at the end.