February 1816: A race through the icy, twisting cobblestone streets of London ends inside an abandoned church—and a horrific discovery. Bow Street Runner Sam Kelly is called to investigate the grisly murder of Sir Giles Holbrooke, who was left naked and garroted, with his tongue cut out. Yet as perplexing as that crime is, it becomes even stranger when symbols that resemble crosses mysteriously begin to appear across the dead man’s flesh during autopsy. Is it a message from the killer?
Sam turns to the one person in the kingdom who he believes can answer that question and solve the bizarre murder—the Duke of Aldridge’s odd but brilliant ward, Kendra Donovan.
While Kendra has been trying to adapt to her new life in the early nineteenth century, she is eager to use her skills as a twenty-first century FBI agent again. And she will need all her investigative prowess, because Sir Giles was not an average citizen. He was one of England’s most clever spymasters, whose life had been filled with intrigue and subterfuge.
Kendra’s return to the gritty streets and glittering ballrooms of London takes her down increasingly dangerous paths. When more bodies are discovered, murdered in the same apparently ritualistic manner as Sir Giles, the American begins to realize that they are dealing with a killer with an agenda, whose mind has been twisted by rage and bitterness so that the price of a perceived betrayal is death (Goodreads, 2019).
I was a little disappointed with how book 3 of the Kendra Donovan series turned out so am happy to see Julie McElwain back in fine form for this book.
I think part of what made me enjoy this one more was that Kendra finds herself back in London and all the main characters of book 1 are reunited again. I sorely missed Lady Rebecca’s input in book 3 and enjoyed having a few minor characters from books 1 and 2 make cameo appearances. As the Duke likes to say “fate brings some people together”.
One of the best parts of the Kendra Donovan series is learning about 19th century England. I was interested to learn about how the London police force came to be and was surprised that one didn’t exist in the early 19th century. And of course, it’s always a pleasure to learn more about the life of London’s aristocracy.
Another improvement, in my opinion at least, was that unlike book 3 Kendra seems to have started to make peace with her situation. Her reactions to life in the 19th century and her growing banter with the Duke and Alec continue to add much needed levity to the story though
The murder mystery in this book definitely held my attention. Unlike the last two books I was unable to guess the culprit and I enjoyed the spy elements of this one.
This was a 4 out of 5 star read for me. If you enjoy a good mystery and/or historical fiction book then definitely give this one a shot.
Quotes I Enjoyed/Found Significant:
But no one was more aware than she that life could change in a second. Before and after. And promises no matter how sincere could be too easily broken.”
Widows have probably the most freedom.
His jaw relaxed enough to allow his mouth to curve into a slight smile.
“So if I ever do get you to the altar I will have to sleep with one eye open.”