I was in the minority of people that didn’t like the second novel in this series as much as the second. I thought it got a bit more convoluted than necessary, leaving me scratching my head rather than marveling at the way everything came together in the end. I was pleasantly surprised with the third novel, and how much I enjoyed it, and I think it’s because it stayed focused on the core characters I already liked rather than introducing a series of new people to figure out, even if the motivations for the murder might involve higher stakes.
Gossip continues to abound in society about Charlotte, and the disappearance of Lady Ingram is yet another topic of discussion. When Livia discovers her sister has been staying near Lord Ingram’s estate, she worries that it could add even more fuel to the fire. Livia is visiting some friends in the country and she is not the only one that has left the city. As a result, it doesn’t take long for word to spread when Lady Ingram makes her return: as a murdered body in her husband’s ice house.
As is generally the case, the first suspect is always the husband, and Charlotte is very worried about what might happen to her close friend, Lord Ingram. Mrs. Watson, who has known him since he was younger, is also worried so the two women put their full resources behind finding out what happened before it is too late for Lord Ingram. Someone certainly seems to be trying to frame him for the crime after all. Of course, Charlotte can’t actually show up and start investigating as herself, so she once again has to come up with a disguise to allow her to interact with people during the investigation.
Since Lady Ingram was working with Moriarty, this novel continues some previously set up story lines, and most of these are related to Moriarty since there are a few people trying to escape his notice, including Charlotte’s brother and Livia’s potential paramour. Detective Treadles also makes an appearance, and his marriage is definitely still struggling as a result of his wife’s new position in her family’s business affairs since he is a rather traditional man in his view of gender roles.
It is interesting to me how when we think of Sherlock, a lot of what readers think about is the brilliant detective who solves crimes combined with the cat and mouse game with his arch-nemesis, Moriarty. The network TV shows can do a better job of balancing the two. So far, Moriarty has been mentioned in everyone of the Lady Sherlock novels, and I understand the reminder from the long term plot perspective, but personally I am more interested in individual cases so hopefully she continues the balance (honestly, I think all the Moriarty stuff was the other reason I was slightly less interested in the second novel) and focuses more on crime solving than conspiracies and political intrigue.