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The story opens with the death by murder of a young and promising student. Two family patriarchs are called in to oversee the police investigation into the death.
Justin Ascham Raleigh is a student at Oxford University in 1832. Or rather he was, for he has just been murdered.
This is not the Oxford you and I know, for this story takes place in a world where the Roman Empire never fell, and after many centuries of selective breeding the members of the Roman Congress's major families have acheived longevity beyond anything we know. In this society murder is considered the ultimate crime as it robs the victim of the chance of many lifetimes.
Over the course of the next two hundred years the Raleigh family's agent investigates the case utilising every advancement in science and forensics he can during the decades.
This is a fine tale told by a gifted SF writer. The world in which it is set is described in wonderful detail given the story's novella length, easily matching much longer works for richness and texture. As this is a world when the reversal in technology following the Roman Empire's fall never occured advances happen sooner, and in slightly a differnet form. We also get a contemporary version of the Roman tradition of three part names, a feature which is consistent throughout the tale, with the characters referred to as Gareth Alan Pitchford or Bethany Maria Caesar.
This is a very good story goes unnotice to everyone, and very good for people who become enthusiasts mystery story, because in it a lot of interesting history, and science that plays an important role in its completion.