Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, has come to the village of Aylswick for two reasons. The first, and more openly acknowledged, is to deliver a last gift from his friend, innkeeper Jamie Knox, recently killed, to Jamie's mother.
The unacknowledged reason is to see if he can find out who Jamie's, and possibly his own, real father is. Because the Viscount and the innkeeper looked startlingly alike, even to possessing startling, yellow eyes.
What he really winds up doing is responding to the request of the local squire and justice of the peace, Archie Rawlins, to assist in the investigation of the murder of a young woman recently come to town. Her name, she said was Emma Chance, widow of Captain Chance, and she was on a sketching expedition.
But as Devlin investigates, none of the facts known about the young woman add up.
Obviously, at number eleven in the series, there's a lot of back story here. I didn't find it difficult to pick up enough to engage with the characters and get involved in the story. Harris handles the historical background well, too. Lucien Bonaparte, currently a prisoner of war, is living in the area with his family; it's the latter part of the Napoleonic Wars, and Napoleon is on the ropes but not yet defeated. The war and the political and social fallout from both the political ideas coming from France and the enclosure movement in England, but none of this is overplayed.
The characters are very good, too. Devlin and his wife, Hero, are an interesting and attractive couple. The supporting characters, whether friend, unfriend, or killer, have some complexity, plausibly mixed good and bad, and comprehensible motivations. Number eleven isn't usually the place to start a series, but I think I'll be looking for more of these.
I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.