The tragic death of an enigmatic young stranger draws Sebastian St. Cyr and his wife, Hero, into a perilous tangle of passion and intrigue in this breathtaking new mystery from the “best historical thriller writer in the business.”
Ayleswick-on-Teme, 1813. Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, has come to this seemingly peaceful Shropshire village on the Welsh borderlands to honor a slain friend and on a quest to learn more about his own unknown ancestry. But when the body of a lovely young widow is found on the banks of the River Teme, a bottle of laudanum at her side, the village’s inexperienced new magistrate turns to St. Cyr for help.
Almost immediately, Sebastian realizes that Emma Chance did not, in truth, take her own life. Less easy to discern is exactly how she died, and why. For as Sebastian and Hero soon discover, Emma was hiding much about her real identity, and her purported sketching excursion to Ayleswick concealed a far more grave intention. Also troubling are the machinations of Lucien Bonaparte, the handsome, estranged brother of the megalomaniac French Emperor Napoleon. Held captive in the neighborhood under the British government’s watchful eye, the younger Bonaparte is restless, ambitious, and possibly involved in sinister intrigues.
Sebastian’s investigation takes on new urgency when he discovers that Emma Chance was not the first, or even the second, beautiful young woman in the village to die under suspicious circumstances. Home to an ancient, hauntingly ruined monastery, Ayleswick reveals itself to be a dark and dangerous place of deadly secrets that have festered among the villagers for decades—and a violent past that may tell Sebastian more than he wants to know about his own unsettling origins. And as he faces his most diabolical opponent ever, he is forced to consider what malevolence he’s willing to embrace in order to destroy a killer.