About The Vital Principle by Amy Corwin
Well-known inquiry agent, Mr. Knighton Gaunt, is hired by Lord Crowley to attend a séance and reveal the spiritualist as a fraud. The task seems simple enough until he arrives at Rosecrest. The séance has barely begun when the sole source of light, a thin taper, goes out, and the séance dissolves into fear and turmoil. Before Gaunt can bring order to the room, Lord Crowley suddenly dies. The lingering scent of bitter almonds indicates Crowley’s brandy may have been poisoned, and Gaunt can only conclude that one of the attendees must also be a murderer.
Confronting the attractive—and suspiciously calm—spiritualist, Gaunt strives to discover if she is simply a charlatan or a murderess.
Miss Prudence Barnard, the spiritualist, has the most obvious motive. Lord Crowley had hired Gaunt to discredit her, an action that would destroy her livelihood. All the other guests are long-time friends of Lord Crowley and seem appalled by the tragedy. But as Gaunt digs deeper into the past, he discovers Crowley’s friends may have had even stronger motives. As the investigation continues, the guests turn against one another, and their relationships crumble under the mounting tension. Not everyone at Rosecrest held Crowley in high regard. Some, in fact, hated him.
Lies and dark secrets from the past soon challenge Gaunt to separate fact from fiction and find the real killer before he, or she, can strike again.