In this Regency-era mystery series debut, down-and-out ex-cavalry officer Captain Gabriel Lacey assists a man shot outside a Hanover Square home. He discovers that the injured man believed that his missing daughter, Jane, has been abducted by Josiah Horne, a resident of the square.

Though Horne claims he doesn't know Jane, his innocence seems unlikely. Lacey then finds Horne's body and Jane's maid bound in a wardrobe nearby. Now his sense of honor compels him to keep searching for Jane.

As the main protagonist, Lacey is a very realistic hero. Though he suffers bouts of depression, he cares about those around him, including a young prostitute and the wife of his ex-commanding officer.

With her vivid depiction of the era, Gardner brings her novel to life, from the streets inhabited by the destitute to the mansions of the wealthy. Woven into the plot are clues revealing the events from Lacey's past that have shaped him into the honorable but lonesome man he has become. (Dec., 272 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick