Emily and husband Colin have come to the French Riviera for what should be a joyous occasion - the engagement party of her lifelong friend Jeremy, Duke of Bainbridge, and Amity Wells, an American heiress. But the merrymaking is cut short with the shocking death of one of the party in an apparent suicide. Not convinced by the coroner's verdict, Emily must employ all of her investigative skills to discover the truth and avert another tragedy.
Alexander's diverting 10th late Victorian mystery (after 2014's The Counterfeit Heiress) finds Lady Emily Hargreaves and her husband, Colin, in Cannes, France, where they're celebrating the engagement of a childhood friend of hers, Jeremy Sheffield, Duke of Bainbridge. A confirmed bachelor, Jeremy has surprised everyone by falling for wealthy American Amity Wells. Emily doesn't quite trust Amity's "studied perfection," but her doubts are overshadowed when a member of their party is found dead in Jeremy's hotel suite. The coroner rules it suicide, but Emily suspects murder and wonders whether Jeremy was the real target. Alexander weaves a compelling story of intrigue among upper-crust fin de si cle society, though the Wells family fails to transcend stereotypes of crass, conniving Americans. Chapters from Amity's perspective, narrated in the third-person, provide glimpses of colonial India and Egypt, though they do little to flesh out her character. Readers who guess the killer's identity may still be surprised by the motive.