A beautiful and intricately woven
story with vivid descriptions of 18th-century London and insights into the worlds of the upper and lower classes, this novel engages. Add in determined sleuth Agnes Meadowes, a cook who feels compelled to solve the mystery
no matter the consequences, and other fascinating characters, and you have
a multilayered mystery that keeps
you guessing.

Agnes Meadowes cooks for the Blanchards, a family of renowned London silversmiths. A bad marriage and her husband's death have left Agnes almost penniless, so this is how she provides for her son. Then a large silver wine cooler, the most expensive commission the Blanchards have received in years, is stolen and the apprentice guarding it is murdered. Separately Theodore and Lydia ask Agnes to investigate "downstairs," with a promise of reward money should she get results.

Agnes is surprised to find that once she undertakes the investigation she will do whatever it takes to find answers, even if it almost gets her killed. The web becomes more entangled as each clue leads further into the shady dealings of both the "upstairs" and "downstairs" denizens. (SIMON AND SCHUSTER, Sep., 304 pp., $14.00)
Reviewed by: 
Sandra Garcia-Myers