THE GRENADILLO BOX by JANET GLEESON
New Year's Day, 1755 The life of Nathaniel Hopson,
journeyman to the illustrious cabinetmaker Thomas
Chippendale, is about to take a chilling turn. He has been
sent to Cambridge to install a new library at the country
home of Lord Montfort. Moments after the foul-tempered
Montfort storms away from the afternoon dinner, a gunshot
is heard. Hopson runs to the library to find him dead. His
nephew and lawyer believe the conclusion is obvious:
Montfort, burdened with gambling debts, must have taken his
own life. The gun near Montfort's hand suggests suicide,
but there are bloody footprints on the library floor. And
there is a strange detail: he is clutching a small,
elaborately carved box of rare grenadillo wood.
No sooner does Nathaniel become the unlikely investigator
than another body is found, mutilated and frozen in the
pond. Nathaniel knows this victim well -- but what was he
doing on Montfort's estate? The search for answers takes
Nathaniel from the slums of Fleet Street to the silk-draped
rooms of the aristocracy that roil with jealousy and
secrets. And he meets Madame Trenti, the alluring and
mysterious Drury Lane actress and client of Chippendale's,
who seems to have known not only Montfort but the dead man
in the pond as well.
An ingenious first novel, The Grenadillo Box is a
deliciously old-fashioned detective story, crafted with all
the intricacy and polish of a Chippendale cabinet.
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