The fourth book in the “Lady Sherlock” series is out! I really enjoyed the first three books in Thomas’ gender bending re-telling of Sherlock Holmes. If you haven’t read the books, by all means do! They are delightful mysteries set in the same world as the classic Sherlock Holmes but with a twist. Here, Sherlock is the fictitious brother of Charlotte Holmes created as a smokescreen that allows her to earn a living as a detective in Victorian London.
Many of the characters from the previous three books come together here to assist a friend of Mrs. Watson, the Maharani of Ajmer, who is being blackmailed. Sensitive information about her family is hidden in a piece of art work about to be auctioned off in France. Unable to bid enough money to obtain it herself, the Maharani needs to retrieve the information by other means.
Art heists are not generally in Charlotte’s wheelhouse, but her loyalty to Mrs Watson finds her taking on the task. Recruiting a crew becomes necessary. Charlotte’s sister Livia has arrived for the holidays and joins the job along with her suitor, Stephen Marbleton. And, who better to help them out than former British intelligence officer and Charlotte’s paramour, Lord Ingram?
Thomas blends the Sherlock-y core mystery with gender politics and classism as she does in every book in this series, but here she also addresses colonialism. One of the things I admire about Thomas is that she tackles issues through the characters by allowing them to come to realizations about their own privilege rather than using preachy exposition to get there.
While I often find the “Lady Sherlock” mystery bits to be a little messy and sometimes a bit hard to follow, this one is further complicated by way too many characters involved in the same bit of intrigue. Instead of spreading them out into sideline bits that converge later, they are all pretty much involved in the main plot line from the start. However, the mysteries are not what keeps me coming back for more of these books:
While the mysteries are intriguing, I come for the sexual tension and the gender politics. There. I said it. My love for these books comes from Charlotte Holmes finding a way to circumvent Victorian social mores AND the smoldering corset/cravat burning want between her and Lord Ingram. I know that those two points may seem at war with one another, but I don’t care. The way that those two admire, exasperate and NEED one another is a delight.
My review last year for Sherry Thomas’s “Hollow of Fear” (Lady Sherlock #3)
Yep. My assessment still holds up here in book 4. The problem is, this one didn’t have nearly enough Holmes vs Ingram steaminess. There were some very satisfying flirty moments and several heart breaking exchanges, but I needed more! I know most of you who have already read her books are already having at it, or will do so in the future. I’m anxious to hear what you think. For me, this is the weakest of the four books, and took me a little longer to get through it than the others. I’m still a fan, but it didn’t capture me like the first three books.