“This atmospheric historical thriller is as good as it gets” (Julia Spencer-Fleming, author of I Shall Not Want) in the evocative Barker and Llewelyn series as mysterious murders hint at a dark conspiracy in the heart of London.
When an Italian assassin’s body is found floating in a barrel in Victorian London’s East End, enquiry agent Cyrus Barker and his assistant Thomas Llewelyn are called in to investigate. Soon corpses begin to appear all over London, each accompanied by a Mafia Black Hand note. As Barker and Llewelyn dig deeper, they become entangled in the vendettas of rival Italian syndicates—and it is no longer clear who is a friend or foe.
In Thomas's lively fifth Victorian historical to feature "enquiry agents" Cyrus "Guv" Barker and Thomas Llewelyn (after 2007's The Hellfire Conspiracy), Barker and Llewelyn investigate Sicilian immigrants, led by mob boss Victor Gigliotti, who are trying to gain control of London's lucrative dock trade. Rumors abound that underworld chief Marco Faldo is in town after several throats are slit, each body accompanied by a threatening note. Barker seeks help from a local Chinese gang and other colorful hooligans eager for both action and profit. A diverting trip to the south of England takes the pair to the estate of Barker's secret girlfriend, Philippa Ashleigh, who reveals startling if incongruous truths about Barker's swashbuckling past. Following this respite by the sea, the valiant sleuths steel themselves for a final, if slightly anticlimactic, battle to save London's waterfront.
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