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The Grenadillo Box: A Novel
ISBN 0743246861 / 9780743246866 / 0-7432-4686-1
Publisher Simon & Schuster
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New Year's Day, 1755 The life of Nathaniel Hopson, journeyman to the illustrious cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale, is about to take a chilling turn. He has been sent to Cambridge to install a new library at the country home of Lord Montfort. Moments after the foul-tempered Montfort storms away from the afternoon dinner, a gunshot is heard. Hopson runs to the library to find him dead. His nephew and lawyer believe the conclusion is obvious: Montfort, burdened with gambling debts, must have taken his own life. The gun near Montfort's hand suggests suicide, but there are bloody footprints on the library floor. And there is a strange detail: he is clutching a small, elaborately carved box of rare grenadillo wood.
No sooner does Nathaniel become the unlikely investigator than another body is found, mutilated and frozen in the pond. Nathaniel knows this victim well -- but what was he doing on Montfort's estate? The search for answers takes Nathaniel from the slums of Fleet Street to the silk-draped rooms of the aristocracy that roil with jealousy and secrets. And he meets Madame Trenti, the alluring and mysterious Drury Lane actress and client of Chippendale's, who seems to have known not only Montfort but the dead man in the pond as well.
An ingenious first novel, The Grenadillo Box is a deliciously old-fashioned detective story, crafted with all the intricacy and polish of a Chippendale cabinet. [via]