In Regency London, an unconventional scientist and a fearless female artist team up to trap a cold-hearted killer: “Thoroughly enjoyable” (Deanna Raybourn, New York Times–bestselling author).
The Earl of Wrexford possesses a brilliant scientific mind, but boredom and pride lead him to reckless behavior. So when pompous, pious Reverend Josiah Holworthy publicly condemns him for debauchery, Wrexford unsheathes his rapier-sharp wit and strikes back. As their war of words escalates, London’s most popular satirical cartoonist, A.J. Quill, skewers them both. But then the clergyman is found slain in a church—his face burned by chemicals, his throat slashed ear to ear—and Wrexford finds himself the chief suspect.
An artist in her own right, Charlotte Sloane has secretly slipped into the persona of her late husband, using his nom de plume, A.J. Quill. When Wrexford discovers her true identity, she fears it will be her undoing. But he has a proposal—use her sources to unveil the clergyman’s clandestine involvement in questionable scientific practices, and unmask the real murderer. Soon Lord Wrexford and the mysterious Mrs. Sloane plunge into a dangerous shadow world hidden among London’s intellectual enclaves to trap a cunning adversary—before they fall victim to the next experiment in villainy . . .
“Sharp, engaging characters, rich period detail, and a compellingly twisty plot, Andrea Penrose delivers a winner.” —Deanna Raybourn, New York Times–bestselling author
“Fans of C.S. Harris take note! A riveting ride through Regency London, from the slums of St. Giles, to the mansions of Mayfair.” —Lauren Willig, New York Times–bestselling author
“Historical chemistry meets alchemy . . . A delight of a book.&rdquo
Set in Regency England, this competent series launch from the pseudonymous Penrose (Too Wicked to Wed, as Cara Elliott) opens dramatically in a deserted London church, where a man later identified as the Rev. Josiah Holworthy hands a man referred to as the Golden One a book. "You are holding delicate parchment and pen strokes that will soon change the world," Holworthy declares. After he boasts that he knows the true identity of the man he's meeting with, the Golden One blinds him with a corrosive chemical, then slits his throat. The Earl of Wrexford, who was on bad terms with the deceased, becomes a suspect, and eventually partners with Charlotte Sloane, a cartoonist who sketched the dead man before retrieving a scrap of paper from his body, to solve the crime. A female 19th-century cartoonist as an amateur sleuth is a welcome innovation, but the period details and characterizations fall short of the standard set by such other authors of Regency-era mysteries as C.S. Harris.
An ok story but the author doesn’t really give a mystery the reader can figure out. Revelations are only through conversations with the bad guys - just like the cliche of the villain having to explain himself. There is almost no character development of the main characters. This book left me with no compelling reason to buy the next book in the series. Too bad, really because I liked the premise of the story when I started it.