Who would suspect antiquarian bookseller Georgia Fenchurch of leading a double life—as a private investigator for the clandestine Archivist Society in Victorian London? When England’s national security is compromised, Georgia must pose as a titled lady to root out a spy...
A cousin of Georgia’s dear friend, Lady Phyllida Monthalf, is brutally murdered in her home during the theft of blueprints of a new battleship designed by her husband—who now stands accused of her murder…and treason. The Duke of Blackford, in service to Whitehall, enlists Georgia and the Archivist Society to assist in the investigation. Playing the part of the duke’s new paramour, Georgia gains entry into the upper echelons of London’s elite, where amidst elegant dinners and elaborate parties a master spy schemes to lay hands on the stolen plans.
The duke is no stranger to the world of international espionage, but Georgia is out of her element in more ways than one. She must not allow her genuine attraction to the duke—or her obsession with finding her parents’ killer—to distract her from her role. But when a mysterious stranger threatens to expose her, the counterfeit lady may be in real trouble...
At the outset of Parker's engrossing second Victorian Bookshop mystery (after 2013's The Vanishing Thief), Georgia Fenchurch, self-described "middle-class bookshop owner," learns of the murder of Clara Gattenger, a cousin of the close friend she calls "Aunt Phyllida" (aka Lady Monthalf). Clara's husband, the naval architect Kenneth, has been hauled off to London's Newgate Prison, though Lady Monthalf is sure the devoted Kenneth is innocent. That Kenneth's plans for a new ship went missing the night of Clara's death raises the stakes. Could a spy, intent on passing state secrets to Germany, have been the killer? To get to the bottom of things, Georgia must go undercover and infiltrate high society, posing as the lover of the Duke of Blackford, the very man for whom she secretly carries a torch. The promise of possible romance entices, Georgia's clever sleuthing satisfies, and the cliffhanger ending will have readers eagerly awaiting Parker's third historical cozy.