Worried about the separate lives and loves that his recently married daughter and son-in-law, Lord Mortlock, seem to be indulging in, wealthy and ambitious merchant Samuel Appleton decides to utilize the services of his sonsí tutor, Robert Fairfax, to discover the reason why. Fiscally impoverished, Fairfax has no choice but to go along with the scheme and spends a sleepless night accompanying Lord Mortlock on his usual rounds of gambling, drinking and senseless vices. Toward morning, he returns with Mortlock to his home and there attends his lovely young and somewhat restless wifeís morning levee.
Things take a horrifying turn when, just a while later, Mortlock is found murdered in his own bed. More than the passel of men and one lovely but hyperactive young lady who attended the levee, itís the missing young Negro slave who rapidly becomes the prime suspect. With his keen instinct and aroused suspicions, Fairfax begins a dogged investigation, and the deeper he digs the more unsavory facts and myriad motives he discovers, all under the veil of aristocracy in the pursuit of wealth and a quest for power. Scorned lovers, gambling dens, suicides, affairs, revenge and romance further complicate an already perplexing case. Can Fairfax solve the case before more people die?
In this book, Hannah Marchís intrepid amateur detective and erstwhile tutor Robert Fairfax once again finds himself unwittingly thrust into doing a spot of detective work. As he investigates, readers are treated to a warts-and-all look at Georgian England, where the vices are many and secrets are deadly. The candid narrative combined with copious period detail sweep readers into a bygone era where they can feel themselves accompanying Fairfax as he resolutely strips the layers and masks from people and society to reveal the truth, no matter how unsavory it might be. The pivotal point of the practice, then prevalent, of penniless aristocracy marrying into rich but common merchant families also makes for compelling reading. The history and the mystery just about complement each other perfectly and the succinct characterizations combined with a swiftly moving plot and characters from all walks of life renders A Distinction of Blood fascinating, provocative and not to be missed.