1987’s Swordspoint is the first novel in Ellen Kushner’s secondary-universe melodrama-of-manners Riverside series.
Richard St. Vier ventures out of disreputable Riverside into the fashionable Hill to kill … but only when he has a contract. The aristocrats who call the Hill home have a taste for lethal arguments over points of honour. When they do not feel up to the task of gentlemanly murder, they employ professional duelists like St. Vier to fight in their stead. Everyone wins! Except for the losers, who are too dead to care.