Historical crime with superb attention to detail, clever plotting and convincing evocation of an era long gone. To solve the mystery of death and the maiden you must tangle with financial espionage, the social whirl of upper class Paris and the development of industrial engineering in Venice and Newcastle. A big novel but well worth the time and effort.
'... He sold the patent for the machine as part of the loan agreement. I don't now if he was aware of what he was doing, but that is the truth. He is busy trying to build something which no longer belongs to him. If the machine works, he will not see a penny of the profit. Do you understand?'
Bartoli nodded slowly.
'If the machine fails it will be unfortunate. If it succeeds it will be a disaster.'
Bartoli shook his head. 'Ah Mr Stone, what foolishness is this! We must help him. Poor man, he is too innocent for such people.'
'I agree. Unfortunately, he is also too straightforward to get out of this mess. He would never stoop to anything underhand or deceitful, however justified it may be.'