Anglemore Park is the ancestral home of Lady Emily Hargreave's husband Colin. But the stately calm of country life is destroyed when their neighbor, the Marquess of Montagu, bursts through the French doors from the garden and falls down dead in front of the shocked gathering. But who has a motive for murdering the young aristocrat? The lovely cousin who was threatened by his engagement, the Oxford friend he falsely accused of cheating, the scheming vicar's daughter he shamelessly seduced or the relative no one knew existed who appears to claim the Montagu title? Who is the mysterious woman seen walking with him moments before he was brutally attacked?
The trail takes readers into the gilded world of a British manor house and below stairs to the servants who know all the secrets. One family's hidden past and a forbidden passion are the clues to a puzzle only Lady Emily can solve.
In Alexander's entertaining eighth Victorian mystery (after 2012's Death in the Floating City), the recent birth of twin sons keeps amateur sleuth Lady Emily and her husband, intelligence agent Colin Hargreaves, at Anglemore, the Hargreaves Peak District estate, where the dramatic appearance of the mortally wounded Lord Montagu, their nearest neighbor, soon leads to a murder investigation. One suspect is the victim's cousin Matilda, who loves Montagu Manor fiercely and hopes to inherit it, but the many women the peer has seduced or compromised have reason to wish him dead as well. Emily's narrative alternates with a chronicle of life below stairs at Anglemore, where the servants hold valuable clues. Though some elements of a romance between a titled guest and housemaid feel implausible for the era, readers will relish Alexander's lyrical evocation of British landscapes and her gift for crafting engaging characters. Boisterous adventurer Rodney Scolfield and Emily's hidebound mother, Lady Bromley, are especially amusing.