In 1905, John Le Brun makes his first excursion to England to visit import broker Geoffrey Moore. Le Brun and Moore became friends six years earlier while Le Brun was Sheriff of Brunswick, Georgia and enmeshed in a perplexing murder case at the very exclusive Jekyl Island Club. Now retired, the self-taught Le Brun is fulfilling a long-standing dream of measuring himself against the greatest minds in the greatest city of the greatest empire of that era.
Upon his arrival, Moore introduces Le Brun to the social world of the 'men's club' - hundreds of which exist in and about London, where men of similar backgrounds and often great power meet. Chief among Le Brun's new acquaintances is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author and inventor of the great fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes. While visiting the Sceptred Isle Club, where the ex-sheriff is scheduled to give a lecture, Le Brun and Doyle hear a series of muffled gunshots. A tandem investigation reveals that several prominent men have been murdered inside the gambling room, where the inner door was locked and the heavily-bolted outer door was inexplicably unlocked. There are no survivors, no suspects, and no signs of either the weapon used in the crime or the thousands of pounds being gambled.
Le Brun is retained by the club to solve the murders and preserve its reputation. Moving as a stranger in this Edwardian world of elegance and privilege, John Le Brun must unravel a Byzantine crime whose purpose has wide-reaching implications for the entire British Empire.
Sheriff John Le Brun of Brunswick, Ga., who debuted in The Jekyl Island Club (2000), mingles with another club of powerful men in a mystery that brings a welcome Southern touch to the British historical. Retired at last, the 58-year-old Civil War veteran takes a trip in 1905 to London, where he hopes to meet some of the best minds in the "hub of the learned world." In his first adventure, the largely self-educated Le Brun rubbed shoulders with such financial giants of the day as Joseph Pulitzer and J.P. Morgan. Here he tests his mettle against a ruthless killer and matches wits with Scotland Yard and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in an effort to stop the slaughter. Le Brun happens to be a guest at the posh Sceptred Isle Club when two members of Parliament are shot dead in the gambling room. But for a chance stroke, his host, Trent Godwin, might have been among the victims. Thanks to his reputation as a crime-solver and a good word from Doyle, the American is able to perform a semi-official role in the investigation. Godwin's beautiful stepdaughter, Veronica, a very forward and forward-thinking young lady, provides a surprising romantic foil. Le Brun's quiet doggedness and resourcefulness serve him well as he plays his cards close to the vest while seeming to share with his British counterparts. Anne Perry fans may not know what to think of this unusual Southern detective holding court in gas-lit London, but others are sure to find this well-crafted and entertaining tale just their cup of tea.