I’d taken a bit of a break from these books as the last one was a bit boring to me. But this one grabbed and held my interest from the start, so either I’m in a better place for reading at this point or this book is better than the previous book in the series.
These books follow the adventures of Emily Asherton/Hargreaves (she gets married fairly early in the series) an amateur detective in Victorian England. Her husband is an agent for the country and therefore is involved in mysteries that have political importance.
In this case, though, they’re working on a non-governmental project. Her childhood nemesis has married into an old and exclusive Venetian family, and her father-in-law was recently murdered. Her husband fled the night of the murder, taking the household’s most valuable possessions, a group of Renaissance books, with him.
The entire situation is shady. Why did her husband run away? The books he took were specifically left to her in the old man’s will, and it soon becomes apparent he’s selling some of them off.
The situation seems to be tied up in a story from the Renaissance period, when a nasty feud between the family and a rival family was at its height. In true Romeo and Juliet fashion, the children of the rival houses fell in love. Despite their best efforts, the girl was married off to someone else, a man more than twice her age who was incredibly violent with her. After an abortive attempt to flee with her lover, she was sent to a convent and forbidden to have contact with anyone.
But her lover had, apparently, attempted to end the feud by leaving her some money. And apparently by Venetian law (at least in the Victorian era, per this book, don’t quote me on any of this) if the inheritance was never claimed, it can still be claimed at any point, even hundreds of years later. And that’s what the murder was about, and that’s why the son stole the books, on the theory that there is a clue to what the inheritance was and how he could prove it.
I enjoyed this book. It was a fast, fun read and the story of the Renaissance lovers was quite touching.