1936: London is abuzz with gossip about the affair between Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson. But the king is not the only member of the aristocracy with a hard decision to make. Owen Montignac, the handsome and charismatic descendent of a wealthy land-owning family, is anxiously awaiting the reading of his late uncle's will. For Owen has run up huge gambling debts and casino boss Nicholas Delfy has given him a choice: find £50,000 by Christmas - or find yourself six feet under.
So when Owen discovers that he has been cut out of the will in favour of his beautiful cousin Stella, it is time to prove just how cunning he can be... And Owen is nothing if not inventive - even a royal crisis can provide the means for profit. And for murder...
Set in 1936, this well-plotted thriller from Irish author Boyne (Crippen) links the fates of two flawed young Englishmen with that of their king who's soon to give up the throne for love in a cat's cradle of theft, blackmail and murder. Hedonistic Gareth Bentley stubbornly refuses to pursue a respectable career, to his lawyer father's dismay, while the embittered Owen Montignac, who's been cut out of his late uncle's will, must come up with 50,000 by year's end to pay off a gambling debt or pay the consequences. When Gareth winds up framed for murder, Gareth's parents, the book's most sympathetic characters, wrestle with their consciences, fearful that the other may learn just how far he or she would compromise his or her principles to save their son. The occasional anachronism jars ("plastic chairs" in a prison visitors area), but fans of JacquelineWinspear and David Roberts will be well rewarded.