2 March 2017.
It is 1882 and, in the past two years, Frances Doughty’s private enquiry work has become increasingly successful and her detection skills and those of her assistant, Sarah, have sharpened and their contacts have increased. After her last extremely dangerous case, Frances has decided to abandon the detection of serious crimes and make her living tracking down missing people and pets and investigating and drawing up family genealogies. When Mr Fiske requests her to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the wealthy philanthropist Launcelot Dobree from a locked room during a meeting of the Bayswater Literati Freemasons’ Lodge, Frances agrees. She tells herself that the missing man is sure to turn up unharmed, so this is not a dangerous crime, and she wishes to oblige Mr Fiske, a good friend. However, Frances’ main reason for agreeing is that Launcelot Dobree’s family has a connection with her own and she needs to follow this through to explore her own heritage.