This accomplished author continues with the story of Lady Emily which began in And Only to Deceive. Set in 1892 in Normandy at her new mother-in-law's estate, Lady Emily - recovering from injuries sustained while on honeymoon (and sleuthing) in Constantinople (read Tears of Pearl) - stumbles across a dead woman, terribly mutilated. Emily is urged by her disapproving mother-in-law to be a proper lady, and by her adoring husband, Colin Hargreaves, to stay out of danger. But will she?
Emily has vowed to bring the killer to justice, even as she battles with what we know as Post Traumatic Stress, the expectations and restrictions of that day's society, and her husbands sudden and devastating orders for her to end her sleuthing efforts. Is the new marriage already in deep water heading toward the rocks? Characters such as the over-attentive brother of the dead woman, her hypocritical family, and a brave but compromised doctor, keep the plot lively and compelling. In the end, the very safety Colin seeks nearly ends Emily's life, and only her quick thinking and courageous action saves the day. Alexander's steady look at the conditions of women, the mores of society, the eras snobberies and cruel prejudices, are beautifully drawn, and the plot unwinds gracefully, the climax thrilling . I give this a 5.