Stolen Remains: A Lady of Ashes Mystery

Christine Trent. Kensington, $15 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-7582-9324-4

Set in 1869, Trent’s solid sequel to 2013’s Lady of Ashes takes undertaker Violet Harper from her new American home back to England. Anthony Fairmont, Lord Raybourn, apparently commits suicide just hours after returning from a journey to Egypt. Raybourn’s role in the multinational negotiations surrounding the Suez Canal makes his mysterious demise a sensitive matter. Queen Victoria, who remembers how helpful Violet was at Prince Albert’s funeral, commands the undertaker to see to the dead peer’s body and discreetly glean what information she can. As if preserving the corpse until the facts are clear isn’t challenge enough, Violet discovers that Raybourn’s family is a nest of animosity and intrigue. When Raybourn’s housekeeper and secret fiancée, Harriet Peet, is found hanged and his own body disappears, Violet must unravel a complex puzzle with serious implications for the British Crown. The mystery’s resolution feels somewhat forced, but Violet remains an engaging guide with an unusual perspective on Victorian society. [em]Agent: Helen Breitwieser, Cornerstone Literary. (May) [/em]