First Sentence: One nondescript room at the top of the War Office in London had become the nerve center of the British Empire.
London is excited about the upcoming Diamond celebrating the 60th year of Queen Victoria's reign, but there are also great concerns about security.
A corpse, without head or hands, is found floating in the Thames. Because the body appears to be a wealthy, older gentleman, Lord Francis Powerscourt is brought in to work with the security forces to identify the corpse and determine whether there is a greater threat.
The investigation leads Powerscourt back to his native Ireland, into the world of international banking and facing a personal threat.
I was afraid, at first, that this book might be a bit dry for my taste. It definitely was not.
There are great characters. Powerscourt is an ex-soldier, who is wealthy, urbane, literate, polite, and confident of his position in life. He loves his wife, Lady Lucy, and family, is capable of expressing emotion. Lady Lucy is no vapid Victoria female, but intelligent and holds her own. There is delightful interaction between Powerscourt, Lady Lucy and their children which adds humor and a softer note to the story. While they take the lead, the supporting characters, some of whom are recurring in the series, are well developed and integral to the story.
Dickinson's sense of place is strong enough that his description of a cricket match made me actually want to understand the game. The verbally paints with contract: "All around were the signs of England in the Spring...Then Powerscourt saw the sad remains of Blackwater House."
The story is very well plotted with escalating suspense. It begins with a seemingly straightforward murder but quickly become much more and goes places I didn't expect. There is no question that I shall read more books in this series.