Delighted by the quiet uproar of raising their newborn, Lady Lucy and Major Sir Robert Kurland could not be more pleased at the prospect of welcoming another into their home. But their preparations are soon overshadowed by a baffling case of murder . . .
Once known to all in her village as the rector’s daughter, Lucy is now a mother herself—to a wonderful eighteen-month-old son, Ned. Upon discovering that she is expecting a second child, Lucy and Robert are delighted. In anticipation of the new arrival, Lucy is set on expanding her nursery staff. When Agnes, her current nurse, recommends her cousin, it seems like the perfect solution.
But trouble arrives along with the new nursery maid from London. Polly’s flirtations provoke fisticuffs in the servants’ hall and tumult in the village tavern, and on her afternoon off, she fails to return to the Kurland Estate. When a farmer finds her lifeless body in a drainage ditch, Lucy and Robert fear foul play.
To their consternation, they learn their new nursery maid was not who they thought. As Lucy’s sister Anna leaves the rectory and moves in to watch over Ned, the couple’s search for the truth leads them to the London theater world, where aristocrats purchase their mistresses, and into danger. But the real threat strikes all too close to home . . .
In Lloyd's skillful seventh Kurland St. Mary mystery (after 2018's Death Comes to Bath), it's 1825, and Lady Lucy and Sir Robert Kurland, who are expecting their second child, hire their servant Agnes's London cousin, Polly Carter, to lend an extra hand. The Kurlands' two-year-old son loves the strikingly beautiful new nursemaid, but her allure causes conflicts among the men of the household and village. When Polly is strangled, obvious suspects include Kurland Hall's senior footman and a groom at the local inn, both of whom were seen with her shortly before her death. Then Agnes confesses that the murdered woman wasn't her cousin but an imposter, who the real Polly Carter asked be hired in her place for unexplained reasons. Playbills left among the victim's possessions suggest that she may be a London actress who goes by the name Flora Rosa. The tension rises with Robert and Lucy's visit to London, where their investigation leads from theatrical circles into the private lives of the city's aristocracy. Lloyd supplies a well-judged mix of domestic dramas and high-society intrigue.