Berkley, may 2004, 5.99, 250 pp.
In 1816 Regency England, Captain Gabriel Lacey is just starting to recover from the depression he suffered after seeing atrocities committed during the Iberian Peninsula campaign. One night while strolling in London he sees a woman on a bridge seemingly poised to leap to avoid a man with a knife. Gabriel chases the mugger away and brings Lydia Westin to the safety of his home.
Lydia is a widow who asks her host to help her prove that her deceased husband never killed Captain Algernon Spencer following the Battle of Bedejaz in Spain in 1812. She believes that Lord Richard Eggleston, Viscount Breckenridge and Sir Major Edward Conraught managed to find a means to get her spouse to confess to a homicide that she insists he did not commit. Though reluctant to turn back the hands of time to Iberia, Gabriel agrees to help, not realizing the outcome of his acquiescing to investigate will be many deaths and attempted murders of him and his guest.
Ashley Gardner is a name worth following as this author shows deep talent for vividly recreating the era and people of the Regency period inside a powerful mystery. The complex protagonist suffers from post battle fatigue caused by what he witnessed during the war. His slow recovery (see THE HANOVER SQUARE AFFAIR) seems real, but his willingness to jump back in the fray to ensure justice is served demonstrates the inner strength of a man with both morals and ethics that should make him a fan favorite.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner