London, 1912, and the famed Ballet Russes have come to London to perform. Anticipation is high, for Diaghilev's troupe is renowned throughout Europe.
At the end of their famed performance of Thamar at the Royal Opera House, the Georgian queen stabs her prince to death and throws him into the river. But life mirrors art when the prince is found truly dead, stabbed through the heart in the orchestra pit below stage. But the corpse is not the dancer in the programme. It is his understudy. Powerscourt is summoned to investigate. But who was the intended victim - the understudy, or the star of the Ballets Russes?
And the Ballet Russes are not the only Russian visitors in London this season. Lenin, Europe's most dangerous revolutionary, has sent some bank robbery money to be changed into pounds. There are stolen jewels from St Petersburg to be sold. And there are other darker forces abroad too and Powerscourt has to look death in the face before he can solve the mystery of Death at the Ballet Russes
Lord Francis Powerscourt is visited at home in London by the Bishop of Lynchester who wants his advice about the suspect for the death of an aged parishioner. Powerscourt advises that discretion rather than accusation is the best way forward, but this is just the start of his association with the diocese of Lynchester. The death of the parishioner has left available a property in the cathedral close which traditionally the church rents out to a suitable tenant. Four worthy candidates are nominated . . . and then one of them, the retail king of the south of England, is found dead in the house, poisoned by strychnine. So once again Powerscourt is summoned by the bishop as this time there is no doubt of foul play.But there are many suspects from which to choose - there are the other candidates who want to live in that very desirable property . . . or could it be more complex than that? Very soon Powerscourt uncovers a trail of greed, deception and death which goes straight to the heart of the cathedral itself.