Regency dandy Julian Kestrel has recently discovered a taste for detective work, and now a second mystery will put his newfound skills to the test. A young prostitute named Sally – who just happens to be the sister of Dipper, Julian’s valet – accidentally stole a suspicious letter from one of her clients, but she’s not sure from which one. This letter was written by a fallen woman who is now pleading for her family’s mercy. However, the letter has no address or signature, so the identities of both writer and recipient are unknown. Julian, Dipper, and Sally resolve to find out who the woman is and return the letter to her; but when they find her, she is already dead. Their new task is to track down her killer, but the search may be dangerous for Julian in more ways than one.
Last year I read the first Julian Kestrel mystery, Cut to the Quick, and was blown away; so my main concern in starting this book was that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. I’m thrilled to say that, for the most part, A Broken Vessel is an equally excellent Regency-era mystery. Julian Kestrel is an intriguing character, and I hope to learn more about his past as the series progresses (alas, only two books left!). He reminds me of Heyer’s suave, unflappable heroes with perfect manners and a witty comeback at the ready. The plot is full of twists and turns, and the resolution is clever. I particularly liked the book’s various settings, ranging from a refuge for fallen women to Julian’s moneyed neighborhood to a variety of pubs and brothels. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was the development of Julian and Sally’s relationship; I felt like it was unnecessary and out of character for him. Other than that, however, I loved this book and can’t wait to continue with the series!