Royden Poole is having a very bad day. Strong armed into investigating a break-in, the theft of everything but a half million dollars in unmarked bills, two missing-persons cases and a shooting with no body, all he wants to do is go back to pretending to be dead.
Last year, David Remnick received huge attention for The Bridge, his biography of Barack Obama. Eschewing the conventions of the form, the New Yorker editor focussed not on Obama’s private life but his public rise to senator and eventually president of the United States. It is a trick he also employed in 1998’s King of the World, a biography of another African-American icon, Muhammad Ali.
In Jane and the Stillroom Maid, The Devonshires provide the emotional flourishes, Mr. Collins provides the comedy relief, and early-19th-century medicine the fascination that drives this increasingly dark murder mystery.