The acclaimed author of the bestselling Jane Austen mysteries brings rich historical immediacy to an enthralling new suspense novel centered around Queen Victoria’s troubled court…and a secret so dangerous, it could topple thrones.
Windsor Castle, 1861. For the second time in over twenty years, Irish barrister Patrick Fitzgerald has been summoned by the Queen. The first time, he’d been a zealous young legal clerk, investigating what appeared to be a murderous conspiracy against her. Now he is a distinguished gentleman at the top of his profession. And the Queen is a woman in the grip of fear. For on this chilly night, her beloved husband, Prince Albert, lies dying.
With her future clouded by grief, Fitzgerald can’t help but notice the Queen is curiously preoccupied with the past. Yet why, and how he can help, is unclear. His bewilderment deepens when the royal coach is violently overturned, nearly killing him and his brilliant young ward, Dr. Georgiana Armistead, niece of the late Dr. Snow, a famed physician who’d attended none other than Her Majesty.
Fitzgerald is sure of one thing: the Queen’s carriage was not attacked at random—it was a carefully chosen target. But was it because he rode in it? Fitzgerald won’t risk dying in order to find out. He’ll leave London and take Georgiana with him—if they can get out alive. For soon the pair find themselves hunted. Little do they know they each carry within their past hidden clues to a devastating royal secret…one they must untangle if they are to survive.
From the streets of London to the lush hills of Cannes, from the slums of St. Giles to the gilded halls of Windsor Castle, A Flaw in the Blood delivers a fascinating tale of pursuit, and the artful blend of period detail and electrifying intrigue that only the remarkable Stephanie Barron can devise.
After a slow start, all the narrative strands, among them the voice of Queen Victoria, begin to work together in this engaging historical from Barron (Jane and the Stillroom Maid and eight other Jane Austen mysteries). Against a backdrop of national mourning for Prince Albert in 1861, an evil (complete with eye patch) German count, Wolfgang von St hlen, tracks Irish barrister Patrick Fitzgerald, who 20 years earlier defended a would-be assassin of the queen, and Fitzgerald's beautiful ward, Georgiana "Georgie" Armistead, who, unusually for a woman of the period, is trained as a doctor. Georgie's specialized medical knowledge comes into play as the late prince consort's concerns and his widow's fears drive the fleeing pair to France, to visit Victoria's youngest son, the sickly Prince Leopold, and on to Bavaria, the original home of the interrelated family of Victoria and Albert. (An opening genealogical chart shows that the queen and her consort were cousins.) The history of the royal line is diverting, and the royal gossip is even more so.