Thomas Pitt, mainstay of Her Majesty’s Special Branch, is summoned to Connaught Square mansion, where the body of a junior diplomat lies huddled in a wheelbarrow. Nearby stands the tenant of the house, the beautiful, notorious Egyptian woman Ayesha Zakhari, who falls under the shadow of suspicion. Pitt’s orders are to protect—at all costs—the good name of the third person in the garden: senior cabinet minister Saville Ryerson. The distinguished public servant, whispered to be Ayesha’s lover, insists that she is as innocent as Pitt himself. Pitt’s journey to uncover the truth takes him from Egyptian cotton fields to the insidious London slum called Seven Dials—and ultimately to a packed London courtroom in which shocking secrets will at last be revealed.
In her 23rd Victorian mystery featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt (after 2002's Southampton Row), Perry uses a pending economic crisis to good effect. Now firmly ensconced in his job with Special Branch, Thomas looks into the murder of a junior diplomat, whose corpse turns up in a wheelbarrow in a garden belonging to a mysterious and beautiful Egyptian woman, Ayesha Zakhari. Pitt travels to Egypt for answers, but the more he learns about Miss Zakhari the more he suspects that she's the pawn in some ugly political game. The Pitts' maid, Gracie, involves Charlotte in the search for a missing valet. Gracie also enlists the aid of Thomas's former subordinate, Sergeant Tellman, and in one of the charming subplots of the book, their romance develops further. The trail leads Charlotte into the dark and dangerous alleys of London's Seven Dials district, and eventually she and Thomas discover that the two cases intersect in a horrifying way. Perry once again delivers a complex and satisfying tale that fans of the series will devour.