St. Martin's, Apr 2003, 6.99, 384 pp.
In 1902 New York, Police Chief Rick Bragg asks bluestocking amateur sleuth Francesca Cahill to help investigate a homicide as she has had some previous success. At first the police thought the deceased was artist Melinda Neville as the body was found in her apartment, but Francesca identifies the corpse as Grace Conway, the mistress of her brother Evan. The art studio was trashed just like that of Evan's artist fiancé was last week. Francesca's sibling is the link between the two crimes is the prime suspect.
As Rick and Francesca work closely together to uncover the identity of a killer, they struggle with their love for one another that cannot be fulfilled as he is unhappily married. Though his wife left him to travel Europe for four years, she is back and expects to restart their relationship. His half-brother Calder Hart adds to the mix as he informs Francesca she will soon become his fiancée.
The fifth Cahill tale includes several unexpected personal twists that add excitement to a delightful historical mystery that uses amateur sleuth and police procedural elements. The investigative story line is fun to follow as Rick leans towards Evan being guilty while Francesca plans to prove his innocence. Though the personnel rectangle slows down the who-done-it, fans will enjoy seeing the directions the lead couple goes setting up some intriguing scenarios for future installments.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner