1807, Cambridge, England.
A young woman is murdered in a boarding house, and nobody knows what to do about it. The volunteer watchman who patrols the streets of this placid college town has no idea how to investigate a serious crime and the private bounty hunters the girl's family has hired to catch the killer employ methods that are questionable, at best.
What Cambridge needs is a hero, and, in a situation such as this, it's very easy for a gentleman with a romantic disposition to mistake himself for one.
19 year-old Lord Byron, the outlaw poet, is a student at Trinity College, though he can only be described as a "student" in the loosest sense of the word: He rarely attends class and, instead, spends his time day-drinking, making love to faculty wives, and feeding fine cuisine and expensive wine to the bear he keeps as a pet.
Catching a killer seems like a fine diversion, however, and Byron decides that solving the crime must take precedence over other, less-urgent matters such as his failing grades and mounting debts.
Written by the Edgar Award-nominated author of Don't Ever Get Old, which Publishers Weekly called "wickedly funny," and inspired by Byron's moody, sexy and often hilarious poems and letters, this dark, twisty mystery will keep you guessing until its violent conclusion.
Thriller Award finalist Friedman (Don't Ever Look Back) succeeds in making his unique blend of humor, crime, and an unusual protagonist work in the first of a new series starring the famous Romantic poet. In 1807, Byron is a student at Cambridge, but his attitude toward his studies couldn't be more cavalier. Instead of spending any time learning, the irreverent Byron, who regards himself as the world's greatest poet, indulges his appetite for alcohol and women, while keeping a pet bear he's named the Professor in his rooms. When Miss Felicity Whippleby is slaughtered near Trinity College, her blood drained from her body, Byron decides that his gifts extend to detection. His efforts soon conflict with those of two professional sleuths, each apparently hired by the victim's father. The killer strikes again, and the nature of the crimes reminds the poet of the legends of vampires his father used to recount. Besides adroitly placing the major plot twists, Friedman manages to make one of the most obnoxious leads in recent memory oddly endearing and even sympathetic.