An American expat gets tangled in the case of an accused killer in this historical mystery set in Edwardian London.
Denton, the American Civil War veteran turned expat author, knows better than to go around doing people favors. But love will make chumps of us all, and for love of Janet Striker, Denton is making inquiries on behalf of the extremely tedious Mrs Snokes. Her husband, she declares, is innocent of the hideous charges made against him. The newspapers, however, think differently: They have dubbed him the “Barnsbury Butcher.”
Then, for the love of an old friend, Denton has taken on a chore for the man’s brattish son, entangled in a shameful liaison with a woman of beauty, spirit, and the ability to wreck his tidy little upper-class future. As Denton juggles these two increasingly precarious cases, he’ll hardly have time to write that new novella—though not for want of material.
Set in Edwardian London, Cameron's middling fifth Denton mystery (after 2019's The Haunted Martyr) finds the author and former Union Civil War general comfortably settled in a house whose back garden conveniently abuts that of his lady friend, Janet Striker. Janet, an emancipated New Woman who aspires to be a lawyer, has been taken on by a solicitor "as a kind of novice." Only three days into the job, Janet is already bringing her work home, in the person of Amelia-Anna Snokes. The distraught Mrs. Snokes pleads with Denton to help her husband, Arthur, who has been taken into custody by the Metropolitan Police and is likely to be charged with stabbing widow Bella Wilcox to death. Even though Mrs. Snokes swears Arthur was with her at the time of the murder, the police don't believe her. Denton does a little digging into the matter when he's not busy trying to come up with the plot of a new novella. Some distinctive characters and amusing moments compensate only in part for choppy pacing, minimal detecting, and a hasty resolution. This outing is for diehard fans only.