Series: Lady Sherlock #2
Published by Penguin Group (USA) LLC on September 5th 2017
Genres: Historical, Mystery
FINAL DECISION: Twisty, complicated, multi-layered with multiple stories and a unique heroine, this story demands a lot from its readers, but delivers a shocking resolution that moves the overarching storylines of this series forward.
THE STORY: Continuing her work and deception as “Sherlock Holmes”, Charlotte Holmes has a new complication. Lady Ingram, the wife of Charlotte’s dear friend and benefactor wants Sherlock to locate her first love who failed to show up for their annual meeting. It turns out that man that Mrs. Ingram is seeking is none other than Charlotte’s illegitimate half brother. Charlotte is also struggling with an unexpected proposal from Lord Ingram’s brother. Mysteries, deceptions, divided loyalties, and false identities abound in this story.
OPINION: Continuing this complex gender flip on the Sherlock Holmes series, this book moves the series past the “origin” phase and shows Charlotte in her complete agency. The book begins right after the ending of the first book and assumes knowledge of those events (so readers with fading memories might want a refresher). Having discovered that she did not actually escape her desperate circumstances under her own power, but rather because of her longtime friend Lord Ingram, Charlotte contemplates what that means.
Right into this conflict walks Lady Ingram. Charlotte now has another dilemma to sort out — what are her obligations to Lord Ingram now that she knows that his wife has a tender for another man. Charlotte, of course, considers this from her intellectual factual perspective, but the other characters around her help illuminate the emotional aspects as well. The plot of this story is complex with several different investigations involving different parties (and even different investigators). There are also numerous characters with their own issues and motives (I especially like the Scotland Yard Inspector who is having difficulties dealing with independent and intelligent women — even his own wife). I was completely satisfied by these various stories but a reader who is looking for a straightforward mystery might be frustrated because nothing is straight here. Some things are significant even when they don’t appear so and vice versa. Some things are connected. Some things completely random. And some things are probably merely planting seeds for the future.
I believe that Charlotte’s character’s complexity takes a big leap in this book. Readers already introduced to her, know that she is poor at the emotional resonance of actions and really, really good at the intellectual calculations involved in decisions (think Sheldon from Big Bang Theory). We get to see that she has her own method of understanding the world and relationships that are not at all cold. She does, after all, care very much for her two younger sisters. As she contemplates the marriage proposal of Ingram’s brother, we get to see her thought processes which gives tremendous insights into her feelings not only for Ingram’s brother, but for Ingram himself. As a character, Charlotte is not an easy one to understand — or perhaps for everyone to like — but I enjoy the way her mind works and her essential decency. Even when that means that she must impart hard information.
I look forward to the next book in the series, but there is much still left to discover.
WORTH MENTIONING: Moriarty.
CONNECTED BOOKS: A CONSPIRACY IN BELGRAVIA is the second book in the Lady Sherlock series. I think this book needs to be read as part of the series and not on its own.
STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.