London: July 1812. How do you set about solving a murder no one can reveal has been committed?
This book begins with the delivery of a dead body to Paul Gibson, retired army surgeon/anatomist . He’s especially anxious about this body, as the young man in question supposedly died in his sleep due to heart failure and Paul is eager to dissect the body to learn more about such a condition. However, upon close examination he discovers that the man didn’t die of natural causes, but was killed with a stiletto (knife, not a shoe) to the back of his neck. Obviously this is a case of murder that should be investigated…but there’s one tiny problem…the body was exhumed without consent by body snatchers so that Paul could do his dissection in secret. Calling in Bow Street is out of the question, so Paul turns to his old friend Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, for help.
Devlin, our hero, has been successful in the past with helping to solve crime, so he steps in to help as discreetly as possible. It’s not the only thing on his mind, however. Hero Jarvis has agreed to become his wife, in light of the fact that she is carrying his child after their one intimate encounter. They have agreed it won’t be the typical marriage, and Devlin is going about in a rather desultory manner arranging the nuptials. His heart is still yearning for Kat Boleyn, more so than ever since he discovered that the Earl of Hendon isn’t his biological father – meaning that Kat is not his sister, and they weren’t committing incest in the past. But she is married to someone else and lost to him. That all sounds rather soapy, doesn’t it?
At any rate, Devlin and Hero find themselves both involved in the investigation. As it turns out, the victim was employed with the Foreign Office, and there are a lot of political machinations going on in the background. Sometimes there’s a little too much of that, and it gets confusing over who is double-crossing whom. Even so, Ms Harris does her usual fantastic job of creating the sights and sounds of Regency London and I was drawn into the story as I have been with all of this series so far. The ending was a nice touch on the romantic side, but other than that there isn’t much in the way of steamy scenes. I’m looking forward to seeing how these two deal with being married, and how things will change in their lives in the upcoming books.