I saw some reviews that indicated this was one of the weaker ones in the series, and I definitely get why some people had that reaction. It’s still a good novel, but the level of intrigue almost felt like the novel should have been part of a different series, since it was more reminiscent of espionage thriller than a murder mystery. Sebastian’s cases have touched on intrigues and political conspiracies before, but those felt much more straightforward compared to this one.
Sebastian is pulled into this case after his friend, Dr. Gibson, does an autopsy on the body of a former foreign office employee and discovers that his peaceful death from a heart condition was murder. Unfortunately, this was not an authorized autopsy and involved illicit means of getting the body since Gibson thought doing an autopsy on a healthy man in his 20s dying of heart failure would be educational. Since Gibson isn’t supposed to have this body, he can’t exactly go to the police, and Sebastian can’t exactly be to open about why he suspects the man was murdered. Given Sebastian’s history and the gossip among his social class, as soon as he starts asking questions about a dead person, the natural assumption is that he is pursuing his new, inappropriate hobby.
This novel takes place less than a week after Sebastian’s last investigation, and after the events of the last two novels, Hero agrees to marry him right at the beginning of the novel, having already decided to say yes the next time he asked in the previous novel. Some of the more entertaining bits of the novel were people’s responses to his marriage and his choice of bride – the only who doesn’t seem too surprised by the who is his aunt though everyone is surprised by the fact that he is actually doing it. While I liked those parts a lot, the mystery of the novel wasn’t as interesting to me, though there ended up being an interesting historical tie in.