I read this 19th century detective story without realising that it was the second investigation in Regency London for Detective Lavender and Constable Woods, but this was no handicap. Although Stephen Lavender is reserved, we slowly learn of his sad past, his new budding romance and his renowned detective abilities. Assisted by dependable Ned Woods, he is able to cut through the mystery to the dangerous underlying plot, while dealing with his tortuous private life.
The other main character, Donᾶ Magdalena, has a troubled past and an insecure future, which aids the plot considerably. I would have liked the villains to have had more substance and subtlety but the developing drama keeps the reader on the edge of her seat.
I enjoyed discovering more about the Bow Street Magistrates and the London theatre in 1810, without feeling that I was being taught. It is a refreshing change to have a detective story set in this era. The precarious position of women in a male dominated society is clearly shown while still maintaining the exciting drama and sweet romance. I shall certainly be seeking out the earlier story of Lavender and Woods.