For renowned portrait artist Joshua Pope, a commission to paint wealthy Herbert Bentnick and his fiancée Sabine Mercier is a chance for a fresh start following the drowning of his wife and child.

Joshua learns that the first Mrs. Bentnick died aboard a ship returning from Jamaica, and Sabine nursed her until her death. Now Sabine wears the fabled serpent-shaped emerald necklace rumored to bring bad luck.

Shortly after his arrival, the body of a Barbados attorney is found in the conservatory and the necklace is stolen. Joshua's hunt for the truth leads from Barbados to London, from one dead end to another, until a story of greed and vengeance emerges.

The high point of Gleeson's second historical mystery is not the suspense, it's her lush and richly enhanced portrait of Georgian England. Some clever readers may guess the outcome before Pope does. (Mar., 350 pp., $14.00)
Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin