It has never been a good year to be a Cotton. Between the falls, drownings, mysterious fires, dramatic suicides, and enough freak accidents to put off every insurance company in Europe, it’s a wonder any members of this scandalous aristocratic family dare get out of bed in the morning. But for 17-year-old Pippa Cotton, 1899 is shaping up to be the worst link in this chain of disasters.
Finishing school is intolerable. Her house is infested with actors. The only handsome boy at the nearby college is married. Her grandfather has died, leaving her in the care of her eccentric uncle and her flamboyant streetwalker-turned-governess-turned-aunt. Half the family wants the other half committed, and they all might have a point. And then there’s all those black-coated Scotland Yard inspectors poking around, asking the most indecent questions about Pippa’s long-dead parents.
It all comes to a head when her guardians are arrested for murder, and make a shocking claim about her father. Now, to prove their story and save their lives, Pippa must dive headfirst into a seedy world of sex, lies, and bloodshed, accompanied by a dashing deshmukh, an ambitious, bull-headed urchin, and the greatest detective of the century (at least, according to him).
But someone else knows the Cotton family’s secret, and they’re willing to kill to keep it…