The year is 1786 and publisher John Holdsworth is definitely down on his luck. His son has died in an accident, his wife committed suicide, his business has collapsed and he has lost his home.
Then he is offered an opportunity to go to Jerusalem College, Cambridge to investigate alleged sightings of a murdered woman, Sylvia Whichcote. Lady Anne Oldershaw wants her son’s reputation salvaged.
It is no easy task that John has been set. Ostensibly he is looking at the condition of books within the college library, but has to try and pry Frank Oldershaw out of the clutches of a doctor who is convinced he is insane.
In doing so, John is caught up in the activities of the sinister Holy Ghost Club, and the problems of the Master’s wife. Infighting among scholars and lecturers adds to the confusion. It is a complex story, but very engrossing.
I found that I just couldn’t put it down. I had to finish it, I just wanted to know what happened next. There are some lovely cameos of eighteenth century life – attempts to avoid the horrors of the debtors prison and life in a university college. The climax comes as a surprise with an unexpected twist in the tail. Worth reading.