This is the third title in the ‘Mary Quinn’ mysteries and Mary has moved on in her work for the Agency. She finds herself as an upper housemaid in Buckingham Palace, a detective incognito, to find out who has been stealing artefacts from the home of Queen Victoria. Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, has been found at the scene of the murder of one his friends, but so drunk he cannot remember what happened. Mary discovers that the man who killed the friend was in fact her long lost Lascar father, now an opium addict. Meanwhile James Easton, with whom she has a feisty relationship, is working on the sewers beneath the Palace. Mary manages to sort out all these mysteries, discovering who stole the artefacts, what the Prince of Wales witnessed, as well as saving the Queen from being blown sky-high by a disgruntled nobleman who does not like female rulers!
Mary is a very engaging heroine, and one can sense her difficulties in surrendering to another human being in the form of James. Life at the Palace with Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their offspring has a ring of truth about it, particularly the parents’ displeasure with their pleasure loving, weak heir. Queen Victoria’s appearance from a ladder does however surprise the reader! There are one or two moments when the story moves beyond the 10-14 age range, and particularly when Mary is called to be seduced by him, an event which does not happen, but given the real Prince Albert’s reputation at the time does not sit well.
Mary’s father dies when she is with him and brings to an end that particular strand of her story. It will be interesting to see where Mary Quinn goes from here with her financial gift from the Queen and her friendship with James turning to love. This is a good read with a real feel for the Victorian era, a spirited heroine and a fast paced plot.