Kendra Donovan’s adventures in nineteenth-century England continue when she is called upon to investigate the murder of a spymaster.
February 1816: A race through the icy, twisting cobblestone streets of London ends inside an abandoned church—and a horrific discovery. Bow Street Runner Sam Kelly is called to investigate the grisly murder of Sir Giles Holbrooke, who was left naked and garroted, with his tongue cut out. Yet as perplexing as that crime is, it becomes even stranger when symbols that resemble crosses mysteriously begin to appear across the dead man’s flesh during autopsy. Is it a message from the killer?
Sam turns to the one person in the kingdom who he believes can answer that question and solve the bizarre murder—the Duke of Aldridge’s odd but brilliant ward, Kendra Donovan.
While Kendra has been trying to adapt to her new life in the early nineteenth century, she is eager to use her skills as a twenty-first century FBI agent again. And she will need all her investigative prowess, because Sir Giles was not an average citizen. He was one of England’s most clever spymasters, whose life had been filled with intrigue and subterfuge.
Kendra’s return to the gritty streets and glittering ballrooms of London takes her down increasingly dangerous paths. When another body is discovered, murdered in the same apparently ritualistic manner as Sir Giles, the American begins to realize that they are dealing with a killer with an agenda, whose mind has been twisted by rage and bitterness so that the price of a perceived betrayal is death.
In McElwain's outstanding fourth mystery set in Regency England (after 2018's Caught in Time), the authorities ask FBI profiler and time traveler Kendra Donovan, the American ward of the Duke of Aldridge (one of only two people to know she's from the future), to look into the strangling murder of English spymaster Sir Giles Holbrooke, who was found lying naked on the floor of an abandoned London church with his tongue cut out. During the autopsy, bizarre markings slowly appear all over Sir Giles's body, possibly forming a message from the killer. Kendra and her detection team, which includes a Bow Street runner and an irreverent journalist, get on a trail that leads them deep into family jealousies and foreign espionage and to more ritualistic murders. One of the series' delights is how Kendra, who operates with a shocking degree of independence for a single woman in the era, must repeatedly find ways to use her forensic knowledge and instincts about homicide that don't send polite society reaching for the smelling salts. With perfect pacing, McElwain holds the reader's interest from the first page to the last.