A female undertaker in Victorian London suspects death by unnatural causes in a mystery “rich with historical incidents and details” (Publishers Weekly).
Only a woman with an iron backbone could succeed as an undertaker in Victorian England, but Violet Morgan takes great pride in her trade. While her husband, Graham, is preoccupied with elevating their station in society, Violet is cultivating a sterling reputation for Morgan Undertaking. She is empathetic, well-versed in funeral fashions, and comfortable with death’s role in life—until its chilling rattle comes knocking on her own front door.
Violet’s peculiar but happy life soon begins to unravel as Graham becomes obsessed with his own demons and all but abandons her as he plans a vengeful scheme. And the solace she's always found in her work evaporates like a departing soul when she suspects that some of the deceased she's dressed have been murdered. When Graham disappears, Violet takes full control of the business and is commissioned for an undertaking of royal proportions. But she's certain there's a killer lurking in the London fog, and the next funeral may be her own.
With equal parts courage, compassion, and intrigue, Christine Trent tells an unrestrained tale of love and loss in the rigidly decorous world of Victorian society.
Praise for the novels of Christine Trent
“Genuinely engrossing.”—Publishers Weekly
“Exuberant, sparkling, beguiling. . .brims with Dickensian gusto!”—Barbara Kyle, author of The Queen's Lady
“Winningly original…glittering with atmospheric detail!”—Leslie Carroll, author of Royal Affairs
A most unusual heroine an undertaker in 1860s London drives this capable first in a new series from historical fiction author Trent (By the King's Design). Violet Morgan and her husband, Graham, of whose prosperous funeral business she's the backbone, quarrel after Violet takes in an abandoned orphan. Her indifferent housekeeping also puts a strain on the marriage. When Graham is caught smuggling goods to Civil War torn America, he must flee England. Meanwhile, Violet notices puzzling causes of death among the corpses she lays out. As her queries in these unusual cases unwittingly alarm a serial killer, she finds unexpected support from Prince Albert, Queen Victoria, and Samuel Harper "of the Confederate States of America," a "Buyer of Special Goods." That the murders play a minimal role in the story may disappoint mystery readers, but the author's painstaking research offers a tale rich with historical incidents and details that period lovers relish. Romance gives the book most of its tension.