While investigating a man claiming to be the long-lost heir to a noble family, Veronica Speedwell gets the surprise of her life in this new adventure from the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award–nominated author Deanna Raybourn.
London, 1889. Veronica Speedwell and her natural historian beau Stoker are summoned by Sir Hugo Montgomerie, head of Special Branch. He has a personal request on behalf of his goddaughter, Euphemia Hathaway. After years of traveling the world, her eldest brother, Jonathan, heir to Hathaway Hall, was believed to have been killed in the catastrophic eruption of Krakatoa a few years before.
But now a man matching Jonathan’s description and carrying his possessions has arrived at Hathaway Hall with no memory of his identity or where he has been. Could this man truly be Jonathan, back from the dead? Or is he a devious impostor, determined to gain ownership over the family's most valuable possessions—a legendary parure of priceless Rajasthani jewels? It's a delicate situation, and Veronica is Sir Hugo's only hope.
Veronica and Stoker agree to go to Hathaway Hall to covertly investigate the mysterious amnesiac. Veronica is soon shocked to find herself face-to-face with a ghost from her past. To help Sir Hugo discover the truth, she must open doors to her own history that she long believed to be shut for good.
Raybourn's delightful seventh Veronica Speedwell mystery (after 2021's An Unexpected Peril) centers on a mysterious claimant. In 1883, Veronica was visiting Sumatra with fellow lepidopterist Jonathan Hathaway when Krakatoa erupted. Jonathan was presumed killed and his younger brother, Charles, inherited the Hathaway estate. In 1889, an amnesiac man carrying Jonathan's passport arrives at Hathaway Hall. He says he wants nothing, but if he proves to be the original heir, Charles and his ambitious wife could lose their home and possessions, including the Eye of the Dawn, a priceless ruby acquired, perhaps illegally, from an Indian maharani. Veronica must confront a part of her past she has hidden even from her lover, natural historian Revelstoke "Stoker" Templeton-Vane, after she and Stoker come to the Hathaways' Dartmoor mansion to investigate the impossible imposter's claim. The man disappears just as the Eye of the Dawn vanishes and a ghostly orb is seen flickering on the moors. Raybourn does a fine job marrying acerbic wit, convincing emotional struggles, and fun glimpses of Victorian science. This sparkling tale will please fans of playful historicals and feisty heroines.)