England 1819: Thomas Shield, a new master at a school just outside London, is tutor to a young American boy and the child’s sensitive best friend, Charles Frant. Helplessly drawn to Frant’s beautiful, unhappy mother, Thomas becomes entwined in their family’s affairs.
When a brutal murder takes place in London’s seedy backstreets, it is not certain who either the victim or the killer is. But all clues seem to lead back to the Frant household, and Shield is tangled in a web of lies, money, sex and death that threatens to tear his new life apart.
And what of the strange American boy at the heart of these macabre events – what is the dark secret of young Edgar Allan Poe?
The No.1 bestseller and award-winning Richard & Judy Book Club pick. An atmospheric and deeply absorbing literary historical crime classic.
"Hugely entertaining, beguiling and atmospheric" - Observer, Books of the Year
"A wonderful book, richly composed and beautifully written, an enthralling read from start to finish" - The Times, Top Ten Crime Novels of the Decade
"Creates an atmosphere close to Sarah Waters' Fingersmith… Deeply absorbing and beautifully written"
"A most artful and delightful book, that will both amuse and chill, and it will have you desperate to search out a quiet corner to continue your acquaintance with it" - Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year