I’ve gotten myself hooked on yet another mystery series. The first book in the series is A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas. The series centers around Charlotte Holmes, a female version of Sherlock Holmes. Charlotte was able to get away from her horrible parents and make a life for herself solving crimes under the name of Sherlock Holmes. The Hollow of Fear (2018) is the third book in the series.
Charlotte is a unique heroine. She is smart, insightful, deductive, and unemotional, which makes her perfect for her crime-solving adventures. She has two sisters: Bernadette, who is nonverbal and needs care, and Olivia, who is starting to write the stories of Sherlock Holmes. Charlotte also has a very slow-burning non-relationship with the married Lord Ingram (Ash). Finally, Charlotte has an assistant and confidante who sometimes goes by Watson.
In the previous book, Charlotte discovered that Lady Ingram was a spy for the bad guy, Moriarty. She gives this information to Lord Ingram at the end of the book. Lord Ingram lets his wife run away for the sake of their children, and makes up a story that she went to Switzerland for medical care. However, in The Hollow of Fear, Lady Ingram is discovered dead on the grounds of Lord Ingram’s country manor. For obvious reasons, he is under immediate suspicion. The gossipy ladies Avery and Somersby especially are after justice for the poor woman they believe murdered by her own husband.
Chief Inspector Fowler and Ingram’s friend, Inspector Treadles, come from London to investigate the murder. Fowler assumes that Lord Ingram is guilty and is more interested in convicting him of the crime than figuring out what happened. Inspector Treadles is torn between doing his duty and telling Fowler all the inside information he knows and helping his friend. Treadles is also upset because his wife has recently taken over her family’s business, which doesn’t fit with his preconceived notions of his wife’s role in their relationship.
Charlotte is very concerned about Lord Ingram’s situation, so she dresses in drag as Sherrinford Holmes, Sherlock Holmes’s imaginary brother. She comes to the manor as Sherlock’s brother with the intent to help Lord Ingram.
I enjoyed this third book in the series a little more than the second. It felt a little more personal and direct, with Charlotte trying to save the life of her potential love interest. These stories often feel rather busy and convoluted. There is often so much going on that it’s hard to keep track of the characters and plot points. However, I have always been entertained, and I will be reading the fourth book soon. I like the feeling of feminism that flows through these books. I also like Thomas’s characters, who are unique and three dimensional.
My one nitpick of this book was that, apparently, photographs were taken of cisterns that had broken down in the manor next door to Lord Ingram’s manor. (Charlotte examined these photographs later). This is the 1800’s, so people weren’t running around with iphones. I could not imagine photographs being taken of a plumbing problem on top of a roof in the 1800’s. It took me out of the story for a minute.
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