This sensational novel has everything; passion, mystery, love, disappointment and humour. A devastatingly handsome man, Mr Mark Hawksley, who is not all he seems, impresses all he encounters, from the no-nonsense northern factory owner, Mr Bulstrode, to the russet haired, penniless lady’s companion, Belinda Kite, just arrived in London and hungry for all it offers.
As Bulstrode and other men of substance are pulled into the web of a promised fortune and Belinda finds opportunities for happiness and material goods, two other couples are bitter and despondent. As if nothing worse could happen, poison enters their homes, but who is the culprit? Detecting the crime is the responsibility of Detective Inspector Stride and Detective Sergeant Cully, whom you may have met before in Diamonds and Dust or Honour and Obey, where they proved themselves to be honourable, hard working men, eager to find the truth. But they have another case to solve. All over London Biblical condemnations such as, “Thou shalt not worship graven images,” are appearing, written in bright red paint and the gutter press have seized upon this to comment that while London is on the verge of anarchy, the police force are unable to cope.
The transition between the actions and emotions of our flawed heroine, Belinda and the gradual revelations about the criminal cases investigated by the two policemen are interwoven seamlessly as the story flows to a just conclusion. Those who have done wrong, suffer suitable punishment, the good are rewarded and a few, whom we can’t help liking despite their misdemeanours, have the chance to set out on a new course of life.
Once again, Carol Hedges has immersed us in the murky but fascinating world of Victorian London with her atmospheric descriptions and superb characterisation. A must read book!