Fleeing a disastrous affair with a colleague in Boston, Isabel Henley moves to Scotland to begin a PhD with a renowned feminist professor--only to learn, upon arrival, that her advisor has suffered a deadly fall. Soon after, Isabel is informed that another scholar at the university is about to publish a book on her dissertation topic, leaving her disconcerted and in search of a new subject, all while struggling to acclimate to her new home abroad.
Isabel needs a good friend during such a rocky start, and finds one when she reconnects with Rose Brewster, her charismatic classmate from undergrad. But when Rose confides to Isabel that she is in trouble, and then goes missing, Isabel's already-unsteady life is sent into a tailspin. A suicide note surfaces, followed by a coded message: Rose is alive but, unless Isabel can complete the research begun before her friend's disappearance, both women will be killed by her captors.
As Isabel follows the Rose's paper trail from Genoa to Florence and, finally, to Paris, she uncovers family secrets, the legend of an enormous cursed emerald, and a chain of betrayal and treason which parallels her own perilous present. If she can put the pieces together soon, she could solve a 400-year-old mystery--and save her and her friend's lives in the process. (Scarlet)