Kestrel is an almost Beau Brummell type figure, but with more brains. One day he receives an invitation to be best man at a wedding, the wedding of Hugh Fontclair and Maud Craddock. Problem is, he only met this Hugh fellow once, weeks ago when he helped him out of a jam at a gambling house. He has no idea why he of all people is asked to be best man, but to escape boredom, he accepts the invitation.
When Kestrel arrives he immediately senses tension between the Fontclairs and Mr. Craddock, Maud's father who arranged the wedding. Craddock, a former employee of the Fontclairs, is holding something over the Fontclairs' heads, but Kestrel stays out of it, until...
He finds a dead body in his bed! A young lady, at that, and one whom he has never seen before. And she's not sprawled out across the covers, she is neatly tucked in, like she's taking a nap.
All hell breaks loose, and Kestrel figures that this other mystery between the Fontclairs and Craddock has something to do with it, so he decides to play detective and find out what the deuce is up.
This was a perfect mystery, in my opinion. An unruly set of characters, an old sprawling home and a surprising ending you'd never see coming. Julian Kestrel is one of the better amateur sleuths I've read in the historical mystery genre and I can't wait to find out what he comes across next.