The newest book in this historical mystery series takes us back to London in the summer of 1814 when the nation was celebrating the signing of the Treaty of Paris of the years-long Napoleonic Wars. The celebrations center on the grand Parks of London, with the staging of the replica Battle of Waterloo on the Serpentine River in Hyde Park. Lord Wrexford and his new wife Charlotte will inevitably be at the center of the celebrations due to their high positions. Complications arise when Wrexford's two wards, Raven and Hawk, discover a man's body floating in the Serpentine. The man, identified as Jeremiah Willis, a well-known engineer, and inventor, was thought to be set upon by criminals hoping for loot. The oddity was that Willis was plainly dressed and a black man. More pressing are Charlotte's family obligations. Her brother Hartley has invited them to his in-laws' estate. Belmont. When they arrive, they see all is not well. Belmont is distracted, his wife Louisa is stiff, and there are signs of economic stress. A visitor from London arrives, demanding to see Wrexford. It seems that Jeremiah Willis was far from unimportant. He was designing a repeater gun whose use would revolutionize warfare. The plans have not been found, and the government wants them back. So do all the major European government representatives present for the celebrations. There are rumors of an auction of the plans. To gain Wrexford's cooperation, the man insinuates that he knows Charlotte's alter ego, A. J. Quill, a notorious satirical artist.
The Wrexford and Sloane novels are favorites of mine. They never displease, full of action, historical detail, and color. The characters are well-rounded and believable. My favorites are the former street urchins, Raven and Hawk, who are maturing into intelligent and gifted young men. A welcome addition is Peregrine, the future Lord Belmont. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.
Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.