When her father fails to appear for lunch at their country estate, Martha Beale knows something is wrong. The family's faithful dogs discover Lemuel Beale's hunting rifle by the river, but there is no sign of the millionaire financier. Refusing to believe he is dead, his daughter - and sole heir - begins a discreet investigation with the help of the mayor's aide, Thomas Kelman. But Philadelphia in 1842 is a dangerous place for a female, especially a 26-year-old single woman.
Historical mystery story
Martha Beale, now the guardian of seven-year-old Ella and five-year-old Cai, has just returned to Philadelphia after summering in the country. The children have to begin school, and Martha looks forward to a reunion with Thomas Kelman, even though she isn't sure where their relationship stands. But a string of robberies is plaguing the city and the nineteen-year-old daughter of one of Philadelphia's wealthiest families has vanished.
With her hands full raising her adopted children and managing her father’s financial empire, Martha Beale is also grieving the loss of her beau. Thomas Kelman, an assistant to the mayor, felt he could never belong in Martha’s upper-crust society and has boarded a merchant ship bound for South America. But the grisly discovery of a decapitated corpse on Joseph Bonaparte’s palatial estate outside of Philadelphia while Martha is visiting there will take the heiress far from her privileged world.
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