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Why would Prince Albert want to kill himself? Why months later on his deathbed did his widow Queen Victoria summon an Irish Barrister named Patrick Fitzgerald and try to force him to sign papers saying that he had dreamt up a plot to discredit the Queen and her family although it was lies? Who is trying to kill Fitzgerald and his ward Doctor Georgiana Armistead? Who is Count Von Stűhlen and what is his hold over the Queen?

Francine Stephanie Barron Mathews is a writer of mystery fiction who writes historical mysteries under the name Stephanie Barron. She is best known for her Jane Austen mysteries. I got this mystery when searching for something different to read. It grabbed me from the start and kept me enthralled until the end.

Barron researches her books very carefully and the plot device in this book has been mentioned historically about Queen Victoria and the decedents who inherited hemophilia from her. The book goes back and forth between Fitzgerald’s narrative and that of Victoria’s. While it could be confusing in less skilled hands this device works very well here.

Patrick Fitzgerald is not your typical hero. He drinks too much. He has an unhappy marriage that he hides. What the book does well though is captures how the Irish felt in England at that time. The hatred and prejudiced is very real and colors how the character reacts.

Georgie encounters her own prejudice as she tries to practice medicine. At that time women were not allowed to be physicians and she studied in Scotland to get her degree and then practices among the very poor who cannot afford to be choosy about doctors.

Two of Victoria’s children play an active part in the story. Princess Alice is highly suspicious of her mother’s behavior. Young Prince Leopold, who suffers from hemophilia, befriends the couple as they try and flee assassins.

The story follows Patrick and Georgie as they try and find out what it is they are supposed to know that makes them so dangerous to the Queen and the Count. Their quest takes them to France and Germany and uncovers a secret that someone is willing to murder for.

I highly recommend this book. It is historically plausible. The characters are interesting. And it is just a rattling good yarn.

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