First of all, I have to say a huge **THANK YOU** to Berkley Publishing for giving me the chance to read this book ahead of time through NetGalley, and then for sending me a hard copy prior to its release date so I could feature it on my bookstagram account. Read on for a synopsis, my candid/unbiased review, and some of my favorite quotes. Quick take: this installment of this fantastic series was just as good as the rest, if not better!
As “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” Charlotte Holmes has solved murders and found missing individuals. But she has never stolen a priceless artwork—or rather, made away with the secrets hidden behind a much-coveted canvas.
But Mrs. Watson is desperate to help her old friend recover those secrets and Charlotte finds herself involved in a fever-paced scheme to infiltrate a glamorous Yuletide ball where the painting is one handshake away from being sold and the secrets a bare breath from exposure.
Her dear friend Lord Ingram, her sister Livia, Livia’s admirer Stephen Marbleton—everyone pitches in to help and everyone has a grand time. But nothing about this adventure is what it seems and disaster is biding time on the grounds of a glittering French chateau, waiting only for Charlotte to make a single mistake…
this is the fourth installment in an imaginative, witty, and suspenseful series that Sherry Thomas has created. Part re-imagined, gender-bent Sherlock Holmes, and part its own absolutely unique and delightful story, if you like historical fiction, witty and self-deprecating characters, and a bit of mystery and suspense, then this is totally the book for you. I’d definitely start at the beginning of the series because the character and plot development builds from one to the next, even though there is a new adventure/mystery to be solved in each book.
In this one, the crew is off to France, where they are trying to recover some stolen letters for a friend of Mrs. Watson. There is a whole lot more action and actual danger than there has been in past books, and I absolutely loved it. I enjoyed getting to know Stephen Marbleton better, and the addition of a new character–cousin and fellow “spy” for the crown, Leighton Atwood, was welcome.
The romantic tension between Charlotte and Lord Ingram continues as well, and is just as frustrating as ever, but I won’t say more because I want to keep this spoiler-free. If you have read the others and enjoyed their relationship, then suffice it to say, this installment may not leave you completely satisfied but you’ll enjoy their continued banter and tension, and in fact, I’d say in this book they finally work together a whole lot more, and it’s great to see how each brings out the best in the other. I just love this relationship so much. I want a friend like Lord Ingram! Who doesn’t?
In summary, this book totally kicks butt, and I’m so glad I got to read it. My only complaint is that I’ll probably have to wait a while for the next one. Maybe I’ll go back and reread the four books that are out while I wait…
“Charlotte exhaled—and wished that she had Bernadine’s distaste for cake. Not always, of course, but for brief and intense spells that made it easier to give up extra servings in times of impending Maximum Tolerable Chins.”
“Miss Charlotte was often and spectacularly silent. But her silence was that of the woods and hills, a natural absence of speech. The maharani’s, on the other hand, made Mrs. Watson think of the walled forts of Jaipur, a silence that watched and hid.”
“He had wanted marriage, children, and an upstanding life. He still had the children, thank God, but a man who had salvaged his greatest treasures from the smoldering ruins of his home remained in the middle of smoldering ruins.”
“‘Hasn’t it always been like this?’ asked Charlotte. ‘Haven’t they always been games that empires play with one another?’ ‘Maybe,’ answered Lord Ingram. ‘But it can take a queen-and-country sort like me a while to work that out.'”