In the third Lady Sherlock novel, a murder tests the dispassionate sleuth’s deductive mind and enigmatic heart.
Every new mystery in this gender-swapped retelling of Holmes has been drawing together the chess pieces of a complex game involving the disgraced gentlewoman and detective Charlotte Holmes, the ominous Moriarty, the upright Lord Ingram, and his icy wife. Here, Thomas opens with the scene that ended her last novel (A Conspiracy in Belgravia, 2017) before leapfrogging to a dramatic event. The gap in time is deliberate—for once, the reader doesn’t know everything that Holmes does, and it heightens the suspense in her race to save the life of someone in whom we are heavily invested. As she looks for clues at Ingram’s country estate, she is in constant proximity to the man she cannot have, ratcheting up their sexual tension. Her sister, gossiping busybodies, and an ambitious chief inspector are all interested in competing outcomes, complicating the investigation further. Inspector Treadles grasps some of what is unfolding, but his certainties about the appropriate role of women were shaken in the earlier novel, and he’s no longer sure of the correctness of his values. Finally, Ingram’s spymaster brother is playing for higher stakes than his family knows. Clues seem to mount in the wrong direction, the action shuts out the reader once more, and then a flashback to the elided incidents satisfyingly clarifies what Holmes has suspected and plotted all along. The resolution, as well as the spell cast by Thomas’ language and clever use of disguise to reveal a devastating understanding of human flaws and desires, leaves one with a good book hangover.
A novel in which you cannot wait to find out what happens next—even as you do not want it to end. For everyone who wants their mysteries spiced with plentiful twists and a delicious dose of sexual chemistry.