Berkley Prime Crime, May 2001, 21.95, 304 pp.
In 1805, Mr. Beau Brummel, the arbiter of style and good taste, joins the Prince of Wales in Brighton. The Prince fled London out of fear for his life after receiving several threatening notes. Mr. Brummel takes the Prince's theatrics so seriously that he continues to work on the perfect knot of his cravat. At the Prince's Pavilion, Sir Simon, a throwback to an age of ostentatious overkill, serves as the food taster to his Highness. In a short time, Simon insults Beau and his friend Lord Perry, who threatens to kill the pompous butt licker.
Lord Petersham mixes some snuff making a new blend. As expected, he offers the first taste to the Prince of Wales. However, Sir Simon adamantly demands to test the snuff to insure no poison has been included as an ingredient. Simon dies. Everyone except Beau believes that Petersham tried to assassinate the Prince. Beau begins to investigate because he knows the Prince has several enemies and so did that odious cow Simon, including Brummel's friend Lord Perry.
THE TAINTED SNUFF BOX, the sequel to DEATH ON A SILVER TRAY, is an entertaining historical mystery that showcases an intriguing era in the English aristocracy. The characters seem very real as if the audience is witnessing the regency period first hand. Beau knows more than wardrobe as he makes an intelligent amateur sleuth because he understands people so well. Rosemary Stevens provides more than just a cleverly drawn who-done-it, she gifts her fans with a powerful period piece wrapped inside a strong mystery.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner