Review by Booklist Review
The scientific community of Regency London eagerly shared research, even with the Americans, with whom they had recently been at war. Thus, the Earl of Wrexford, a chemist, and his fiancé, Lady Charlotte Sloan, make their first outing as an engaged couple at a symposium at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Josiah Becton, part of the American delegation, is scheduled to present his research about a plant with amazing curative properties. But it is the plant's potential commercial value that is behind his murder in a conservatory before the reception and the lynchpin for the intricate plot of Penrose's mystery. As the investigation evolves, the special talents of every member of the eccentric family of choice that Wrexford and Charlotte have put together over the course of four prior adventures are put to the test. In particular, Charlotte uses her secret identity as the artist behind scathing and very popular satirical cartoons to cast suspicions when the evidence is still thin. Modern sensibilities drive the character development, but the plot integrating science, commerce, and murder is solidly grounded in the historical period.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In Penrose's swashbuckling if uneven fifth Wrexford and Sloane mystery set in Regency England (after 2020's Murder at Queen's Landing), Lady Charlotte Sloane has finally agreed to marry the Earl of Wrexford, and for their first outing as an engaged couple, Charlotte and the earl attend a lecture by American botanist Josiah Becton at London's Royal Botanic Gardens. Becton has made a momentous scientific breakthrough, but before he can share his discovery, he's found dead in the solarium. The head of Becton's American delegation believes the botanist was murdered for his formula and asks Wrexford to investigate. The earl is reluctant, until he and Charlotte learn their young ward, Hawk, was in the solarium when Becton died and may have seen--or been seen by--the killer. Too many plot threads and character backstories that have little to do with the murder inquiry muddle the book's first half, but the story picks up nicely in the middle and roars to an exciting climax, followed by a sweet denouement. Historical fans will have fun. Agent: Gail Fortune, Fortune Talbot Agency. (Sept.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
The fast-approaching nuptials of a couple with many secrets are threatened with delay by yet another murder in Penrose's latest Regency mystery. Although Lady Charlotte Sloane's relationship with the Earl of Wrexford has been fraught with problems, they're finally preparing to marry when a well-known scientist dies at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. Wrexford is called to the scene by Dr. Hosack, an American friend of the deceased who suspects that it was poison and not a weak heart that killed Mr. Becton, who was about to announce a great advance in anti-malarial medicines. One of Charlotte's wards witnessed the killer's departure, but his inability to identify him leaves the witness in possible danger. After the sleuthing pair discover that one of their most vicious enemies may be involved, they decide to investigate despite the bad timing. Becton had planned to offer his cure for free, but others are eager to steal the formula and sample in order to turn a profit. Luckily, many friends who have helped the couple in past cases are willing to pitch in again to investigate a complicated puzzle that features more than one group of villains. The fact that Great Britain and the United States are on the brink of war drags politics into the mix as well. A bit of Regency-period romance and history enhance a convoluted mystery with plenty of derring-do. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.