Barry Maitland was born in Scotland and grew up in London. He pursued a career in architecture, writing a number of books on architecture and urban design. In 1984, he emigrated to Australia, where he took up the position of Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales. He retired from the University to write full time in 2000. He lives in Australia. The first of his crime novels was published in 1994. They feature Detective Chief Inspector David Brock and his colleague, Detective Sergeant Kathy Kolla, and are set in London.
When Marion Summers - red-haired, beautiful and mysterious - collapses and dies in the rarefied surrounds of the London Library, DI Kathy Kolla and DCI David Brock are sent to head the investigation. Kathy finds a reluctant kinship with the fiesty Marion, who had, like Kathy, left a difficult home life when young and struck out to London for independence.
Marion's research on the intriguing, adulterous circle of artists, wives, lovers and muses around Victorian artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti seems irrelevant, until the use of arsenic arises. As Brock and Kolla get closer to the truth, another victim dies an excruciating death in a library, and it looks like a serial poisoner is on the loose.