“[A] gem, catching to perfection the social atmospherics of Victorian Brighton and at the same time telling an ingenious story of murder and discovery.”—Publishers Weekly
“His best yet.”—H. R. F. Keating, The Times (London)
“The sleuthing is neat and satisfying: in the meantime, Victorian pleasures, permitted and illicit, are rendered up with gusto.”—Guardian
Brighton in 1882 is the setting of this novel of crime and tangled emotions. Albert Moscrop, a visitor whose holiday is dedicated to peering through a telescope at the seaside scene, marches down Queen’s Road to the beach and draws us through a sequence of disarmingly trivial observations into a compelling drama, played in the fashionable haunts of the nineteenth-century resort: beach, piers, promenade, swimming bath, aquarium, and Devil’s Dyke.
A keen student of human nature, Moscrop concentrates his interest on one particular family of holidaymakers—the Protheros, and especially the beautiful Zena Prothero, whose husband appears to take her excessively for granted. Gradually Moscrop moves into the circle of the Prothero family, only to become involved in a sensational murder. All Brighton is horrified by the gruesome crime. The local police seek the help of Scotland Yard, which is provided in the persons of Sergeant Cribb and Constable Thackeray. These indomitable detectives soon find themselves challenged by the strangest case of their careers, one that is as mystifying as it is macabre.