On Sept. 29, 1869, the gold market crumbles, and fortunes are lost in a matter of hours. When the bodies of two men, wealthy Boston brahmins Noah Basett and Philip Munro, are found, it's assumed that they committed suicide over their financial losses. But when Harvard professor and forensic scientist Will Hewitt autopsies the victims, he discovers that Munro was murdered.

Dr. Hewitt needs help navigating the city and its complex society to find the killer. He turns to governess Nell Sweeney, who understands the world of the rich and how their power can be used to hide their secrets.

The investigation leads to the conclusion that these men were concerned more with keeping some things hidden than with the loss of their money. How they were tied together makes for a chilling climax to a mesmerizing mystery.

Not only does Ryan provide readers with a tightly wound, suspenseful novel peopled with multidimensional characters, she writes about an era whose problems mirror our own. This is a historical period she knows and brings to life so clearly that readers are totally immersed. Nell is an ideal heroine: smart, intrepid and human. Be on the lookout for her return. (Nov., 230 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin