Murder at Kensington Palace (A Wrexford & Sloane Mystery)
This is the third in Andrea Penrose’s mystery series set in Regency England, featuring the Earl of Wrexford, an enigmatic man and a brilliant scientist, and Charlotte Sloane, a satirical cartoonist who has adopted her late husband’s pseudonym of A. J. Quill. Wrexford uses logic to solve crimes, while Charlotte relies on intuition and her network of informants throughout London, including two street urchins she has taken in as her wards. Although they seem to be opposites, Wrexford and Charlotte work well as a team and have slowly developed feelings for each other. Charlotte has confided her deepest secret to Wrexford: that she is the daughter of an earl, but her family disinherited her when she eloped with an artist.
When Charlotte’s cousin Cedric is murdered in the garden outside Kensington Palace and his twin brother Nicholas arrested for the crime, she is convinced of Nicholas’ innocence and decides to re-enter polite society to find the real killer, even though this step will endanger the independent existence she has won for herself. Cedric and Nicholas, who were like brothers to Charlotte when she was a child, were members of a scientific society that performed experiments with electricity, thinking it could be used to reanimate the dead. Wrexford uses his scientific connections to investigate the members of the society and discovers that these people are dangerous. But which of them is a murderer?
This book is very suspenseful and takes many turns, as the clues point first to one person, then another. Penrose is excellent at conveying the details of early 19th-century science and experiments with electricity. This was the era of Frankenstein, after all. The relationship between Wrexford and Charlotte is further developed in this book, and I am looking forward to seeing where it leads next.