Following his last appearance in A Beautiful Blue Death (2007), Victorian detective Charles Lenox faces conspiracy and murder set against the dreaming spires of Oxford. The son of Lady Annabelle Payson has vanished from his college, leaving in his wake a dead cat, a card bearing the enigmatic phrase "the September Society," and questions about the actions of his wastrel father and his father's associates in India. Complicating Lenox's case are his abortive attempts to propose to his neighbor, Lady Jane Grey; a duke's dilettante son casting himself as Lenox's indispensable Watson; and a series of unexplained deaths. The best scenes of Agatha nominee--and Oxford graduate--Finch are those set in that university town, with lovingly rendered depictions of such landmarks as the Turf Tavern and Christ Church Meadow and even an encounter with a future poet of some renown. All in all, Finch delivers a tale of unexpected twists that resonates in the present day, as it portrays the abuses that can occur in a conflict on foreign soil.