|Rosemary Stevens: The Tainted Snuffbox|
Prime Crime (Hardcover), ISBN: 0425179486
Did you say murder? Oh dear, what bad ton…
Beau Brummell, fashion arbiter and connoisseur extraordinaire, follows the Prince Regent to Brighton. "Prinny," frightened by a series of threatening letters, feels that the salubrious ocean air -- and a smaller, therefore safer venue -- will suit admirably. As usual, where the Heir Apparent to the throne of England goes, so too goes the rest of the fashionable world.
But this isn't the normal summer migration to the coast. Shaken and more than a little scared, Prinny surrounds himself with platoons of guards and even a food-taster. And sure enough the food taster, Sir Simon, keels over after dinner one night. But not from the exquisite lobster duxelles or superb crème brulee. Sir Simon, an annoying and encroaching toady who rejoices in the most excruciatingly awful wardrobe ever to blight the ton, nabbles a pinch of snuff from a box meant as a gift for the Prince Regent and, moments later topples over dead.
Aided by the redoubtable Chakiri, the only Siamese cat in England; Frederica, the Duchess of York; and the luscious Miss Lydia Lavender, Brummell sets out to find the murderer. This tangled web, however, takes Brummell right to the edge of social and personal ruin.
Who committed the nefarious deed? Was it the obtuse and oblivious Lord Petersham, who brought the deadly snuffbox as a present for Prinny? Or was someone else the true target of the poisonous tobacco? And what about the body of the young woman washed upon the Brighton shore?
Keeping to the high standards she set with Death on a Silver Tray, Rosemary Stevens once again wows readers with an impeccably researched and wonderfully written mystery set in Regency England. In fact, if anything, Stevens' Brummell grows more engaging with each encounter.
Intriguing characters transport readers right into the salons and ballrooms of Brummell's London. How closely Stevens' Brummell approximates the great Beau himself, we'll never know. But we can certainly hope the real thing was as warm, witty and quick-witted as his fictional alter-ego.
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