After the incident with their sister-in-law and her mother, Nate and Annie start working for Mr Livingstone, the store’s owner.
Nate is going to supervise all legal matters, and Annie is asked to go through the ledgers and other financial matters. According to Mr Livingston, he has noticed that he is suffering some losses, but he doesn’t know if the cause is embezzlement or shoplifting. Annie accepts to investigate, and gets to know the staff. Livingston has a partner, Adolphe Villeneuve, who used to have his own store, but Livingston offered him a partnership and he accepted. Villeneuve’s wife, Hortense, also works there, designing hats, and she seems to be quite an proud, cold woman. Annie also meets Robbie Livingston, the owner’s son, who also works in the store. She learns that Robert Livingston has made him work from below as the young man wanted to turn the store into an exclusive emporium, but Livingston wants his store to cater for people of all stations. Annie works closely with Miss Sophronia Birdsoll, who is a secretary and was Livingston’s late wife’s cousin. Then she also meets Marie Fournier, who is the woman from the prologue and the fashion designer in the store, and her ten-year-old daughter Emmaline.
Annie thoroughly investigates the ledgers and financial documents and she realises that there is no foul play going on, but she discovers that a series of goods has gone missing from all departments, which started four months ago. Annie tries to talk to all employees. Madame Villeneuve is not very forthcoming, and she feels that she and Mrs Fournier have personal problems. Annie also has the cooperation of someone from inside. When she is being shown around, she runs into Biddy O’Malley, the Irish girl who was working for the psychics in the second book and is friends with Kathleen and Tilly’s cousin, and the girl is ready to help her with anything she hears. The person she is unable to talk to is Mrs Fournier as on Thanksgiving’s Day she and Nate have to leave the company of their friends as Patrick come to tell them that Mrs Fournier has been found dead under suspicious circumstances. The woman apparently plunged down the stairs and her daughter found her, but it is not clear if it was an accident or if she was murdered. The police are looking into it, and Annie and Nate are going to help them. Annie is worried that maybe her investigation might have been the trigger for the murder, but Nate fobs off her worries, reasoning that if the woman was indeed murdered, there might be another reason they know nothing about.
Nate is also busy with his first divorce case. Mrs Inglenook wants a divorce on the grounds of mental and physical abuse. The case was going well as Nate was able to bring witness that corroborated Mrs Inglenook’s claims. However, Mr Inglenook’s lawyer suddenly brought a new witness, Mrs Inglenook’s brother who claimed that his sister planned with her lover to get Mr Inglenook and get everything from him. Nate was desperate because he only has until Friday to counteract the damage this new witness has done. Annie manages to calm him down, and in the end he finds out that the man had been arrested for disorder behaviour and even once he was arrested for throwing a big stone through a window in the Inglenooks’ house, but Mr Inglenook didn’t press charges despite his wife begging him to do so. Nate also found the landlord in the boarding house where the man had stayed for two weeks, and the landlord heard him say one day he was drunk that he would come to some good money soon, and then he was paid with crisp new notes. So Nate has enough arguments to win the case.
As for Nate and Annie, they are so lovely to see together. I have the hunch that Annie might be pregnant already. She keeps saying she is tired, headachy, and she even says that her waistline is broadening, which she assumes is because Beatrice’s good meals to satisfy Nate. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think it might be possible.