Debt of Dishonour

Written by Mary Andrea Clarke
Review by Janet Williamson

This lively and engaging read opens when Georgiana Grey, otherwise known as the highwayman the Crimson Cavalier, is robbed at pistol‑point whilst travelling in a carriage to a party in the company of Louisa Winterton and Selina Knatchbull. The highway robber relieves them of valuables including a string of pearls belonging to Louisa’s mother, Lady Winterton.

The circumstances of their late arrival at the party cause a stir, which is superseded by an even greater disturbance when a richly‑dressed man is dragged into the room with a knife protruding from his abdomen. His name is Boyce Polp, an affable, charming man known to London society. Before he dies he tells the assembled onlookers his pocket-watch has been stolen.

The assembly assume that the highwayman who robbed Georgiana also attacked Polp. Georgiana knows the identity of the highwayman, and believes him incapable of murder. She resolves to restore the jewels to their rightful owners and to solve the mystery of the missing watch and Polp’s murder. Her pageboy, Tom, is sent to the Tavern to retrieve the valuables, but Georgiana is astonished when he tells her that Lady Winterton’s pearls have been returned.

Whilst straining to be polite to Selina, who actively dislikes Tom, and outwardly obeying the conventions of polite society, she masquerades as the Crimson Cavalier and uses her wits and keen observations, stealth, and her servants in her investigations. She and a Bow Street Runner exchange mutually‑beneficial information, and she discovers that Lady Winterton once knew the highwayman, and that Polp was suspected of deceit by his society gambling friends.

Though there was not much descriptive detail, I liked the characters, pace, atmosphere and sense of satisfaction it left me with.