Apothecary John Rawlings has been summoned to Devon by Elizabeth di Lorenzi, his beautiful but unpredictable mistress. Leaving his young daughter Rose in the good care of her grandfather Sir Gabriel Kent, Rawlings sets off for Exeter on board the stagecoach. His fellow-passengers are a motley crew, and incelude a large and talkative German lady; Cuthbert Simms, a dance-master; and Jack Beef, the so-called ï¿¿ï¿¿ï¿¿Black Pyramid", a bare-knuckle fighter.
Apothecary John Rawlings has travelled to Devon to be by the side of his mistress, Elizabeth di Lorenzi, who is due to give birth to their child. Leaving his shop and his new carbonated water business in good hands, John is presented with a surprise on his arrival at Sidmouth House. While Elizabeth is recuperating, he learns that Lady Sidmouth's daughter, Miranda, is to marry the elderly Earl of St. Austell, who is 54 years her senior and has a cruel reputation.
When John Rawlings is asked to investigate a secret club and some shady goings-on, he is intrigued. The disreputable Sir Francis Dashwood is believed to be involved, as well as some illustrious members of the British aristocracy.
"Medically inaccurate, risible narrative"
Apothecary John Rawlings is intrigued when a letter arrives asking him to investigate an impostor claiming to be the long-lost step-son of a wealthy Bristol merchant in possession of his dead wife's diamond inheritance. John Rawlings' father, Sir Gabriel Kent joins him on the trip to take the healing waters at Hotwell where they socialize with the crème of Bristol society. But Rawlings is compelled to try and solve the mystery and so he must trawl through the underbelly of 18th-century society.
The sleepy Sussex village of Lakehurst is abuzz with news of the arrival of the new owner of Abbot’s Manor. Gerry Harlington, a flamboyant American actor, has taken residence with his glamorous Russian wife Ekaterina. The local dramatic society is looking for a new director for their Son et Lumière show to be staged at Fulke Castle and it seems at first that Gerry might fit the bill. All seems well, until Gerry’s attempt to insert a hip-hop street dance into an Elizabethan Fair scene is met with violent protest.
The sleepy Sussex village of Lakehurst has suddenly become a place of terror and night shadows. After dark it is hardly safe to go out, to the consternation of the newly arrived vicar, trendy young Nick Lawrence, and Inspector Dominic Tennant of the Sussex Police Force. For a serial killer is on the loose, one who leaves notes at the scenes of their crimes signed “The Acting Light of the World”.