Alexander Falkland, one of the darlings of English society, has just been murdered — bashed over the head with a poker in the middle of a party at his own house. The Bow Street Runners are at a loss to discover the killer; after all, who would want to murder a man who was universally liked? When the official investigation goes nowhere, Alexander’s father enlists the help of Regency dandy/sleuth Julian Kestrel. As a man of Alexander’s own social class, Julian has unique access to his friends and associates that the Bow Street Runners could never obtain. Julian agrees to take the case, but he warns Alexander’s father that unpleasant truths might emerge. And indeed, the further Julian digs into Alexander’s life, the more shocking secrets he uncovers, including several motives for murder.
I absolutely loved the first two books in the Julian Kestrel series, and I’m thrilled to be able to say that I loved this one as well! The strength of most mystery series depends on the protagonist, and Julian Kestrel is a wonderful sleuth: intelligent, intuitive, willing to cooperate with the police (a rare trait!), and always impeccably dressed. I also think this book is very well-plotted. Obviously there is more to Alexander Falkland than meets the eye, but the various twists and turns of the plot kept me in suspense until almost the very end of the book. My only problem with the book is that I really liked one particular character who ended up doing a horrible thing in the course of the plot. Because of this, the resolution of the mystery wasn’t completely satisfying for me; but I suppose that’s a testament to the author for making me care so much about that character! In short, I’d definitely recommend this book (and the entire series) to anyone who enjoys mysteries or historical fiction!