Verity Browne and Lord Edward Corinth attend the Memorial Service in Westminster Abbey for Lord Benyon killed a few months before when the Hindenburg airship burst into flames as it docked in New Jersey. Seated a few rows in front of them in the Abbey is the distinguished archaeologist Professor Pitt-Messanger and his daughter Maud. As the congregation begins to disperse after the service, Edward hears Miss Pitt-Messanger cry for help. Her father is slumped in his seat. When he goes to her aid he finds that the Professor has been stabbed to death with an ancient Assyrian dagger.
Edward has no wish to investigate the murder but Verity gets herself invited to Swifts Hill, the ultra-modern house in Kent belonging to the millionaire Sir Simon Castlewood. His wife, Virginia, is one of Verity’s few school friends and she is looking after the grieving Maud. Verity quickly discovers that Pitt-Messanger was a selfish bully who made his daughter’s life a misery and prevented her marrying the man she loved.
By coincidence, Winston Churchill asks Edward to investigate the Castlewood Foundation which Sir Simon has set up to fund worthy projects including medical research. Churchill has received information that Sir Simon’s protégé, the eminent surgeon Dominic Montillo, is using the Foundation to fund research into the so-called science of eugenics which pretends to distinguish between racial types. No less a personage than Reichsführer Himmler is interested in pursuing the idea of racial purity through selective breeding.
When Maud Pitt-Messanger is herself stabbed to death with a dagger from Sir Simon’s archaelological museum, Edward and Verity join forces to find her killer but Verity’s dislike of Mr Churchill and her growing attraction to the young German, Adam von Trott, drives a wedge between them which brings them both unhappiness and endangers the investigation.
David Roberts was an editor at Chatto and Windus, editorial director at Weidenfeld & Nicolson and a partner of Michael O'Mara Books, before becoming a full-time writer in 2000.His series of crime novels set during the 1930s featuring Lord Edward Corinth and Verity Browne and optioned by Columbia Pictures include Sweet Poison, Bones of the Buried, Hollow Crown, Dangerous Sea and The More Deceived.He is married and divides his time between London and Wiltshire.
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