'Lestrade and the Guardian Angel' by M. J. Trow
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Book seven in the Inspector Lestrade series.
He was in his forty-third year and knee-deep in murder. Well, what was new? Sholto Lestrade wouldn’t really have it any other way.
The first fatality in a series of killings which was to become the most bizarre in the celebrated Inspector’s career, was a captain of the 2nd Life Guards, found battered over the head in the Thames at Shadwell Stair, an Ashanti War medal wedged between his teeth. Lestrade’s next summons was to the underground caves of Wookey Hole where the demise of an Egyptologist – a scarab clamped between his molars – prompted the question; can a man dead for a thousand years reach beyond the grave and commit murder?
The further death from a cadaveric spasm of an enobled young subaltern whilst on picquet duty (this time a locket is his dying mouthful) forces Lestrade to impersonate ‘Lt Lister, Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry’ and into becoming a barrack-room lawyer of incisive command.
As the body count rapidly rises, Lestrade, constantly and relievedly touching base with his ‘family’, Harry and Letitia Bandicoot of the Hall, Huish Episcopi, varies a volatile lifestyle with dinner at Blenheim Palace; a disastrous cycle tour ending in a night in gaol; a near-fatal trip in an air balloon; and masterful mediation in East End gang warfare on the Ratcliffe Highway.
Eventually, some seven cadavers later, things begin to fit into place and the final conundrum emerges; who or what is Coquette Perameles?