Lady Cecily Kay has just returned to England when she encounters Sir Barnaby Mayne. It’s 1703, Queen Anne is on the throne, and London’s coffee houses are buzzing with discussions of everything from science and philosophy to monsters and magic. Of course, Cecily has no plans to join the ongoing conversations; coffee houses bar the door to female visitors, however intelligent and learned. But she has secured something better: an entrée to the house of the city’s most influential collector, where she can compare her list of previously unknown plants to his rooms filled with specimens and, with luck, identify them.
On Cecily’s first day in the Mayne house, however, Sir Barnaby is stabbed to death. His meek curator confesses to the crime, and even the victim’s widow seems willing to ignore any discrepancies in the evidence. With assistance from her childhood friend Meacan Barlow, an illustrator also living in Sir Barnaby’s house, Cecily sets out to tie up the loose ends on a murder that far too many people would prefer to remain unsolved. Her quest leads her into the shadowy world of London’s collectors, who will stop at nothing to cut out the competition and have no qualms about silencing a pair of nosy women who are coming too close to the truth.
In The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne
(Minotaur Books, 2020), Elsa Hart
the author of the famed Li Du novels, here brings her talent for spinning a great yarn and crafting a compelling mystery to a new place, which—as you will learn in the interview—is in fact her original literary destination, attained at last.
C. P. Lesley is the author of ten novels, including Legends of the Five Directions, a historical fiction series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible. Her latest book, Song of the Shaman, appeared in 2020. Find out more about her at http://www.cplesley.com.