CBR15 PASSPORT (Stamp #14 : Books From Different Countries. International Waters count I think?)
CBR15 BINGO (Relation “ship” Square: Takes place on an actual ship, all sorts of relationships: mother/daughter, romantic, friendship)
The seventh novel in Thomas’ Lady Sherlock series is steeped, as they all are, in gender and class politics. Reputation goes hand in glove with those themes and this book really does a deep dive into those murky waters.
Again, this is the 7th in the series so spoilers abound.
On the run from Moriarty and disguised as an elderly woman, Charlotte boards a ship on the hunt for a document. Once she procures it, her reward will be government-provided protection from the evil mastermind who is on her tail. Of course, the whole gang is also aboard: Ms Watson, Lord Ingram, her sister, and unfortunately, her mother. While they are busy concealing identities, finding documents, meeting for trysts, and avoiding terrible mothers, a murder takes place on the ship. Could Moriarty and his minions already be on board?
As usual, I can only keep track of 1/3 of what is going on in these books. Alas, the mystery-solving, suspect-tracking part of my brain doesn’t function on a high enough level. This, however, NEVER, impacts my enjoyment of these books. I will say that I do tend to favor the parts in the series that lean a little more towards Charlotte and Lord Ingram furtively glancing, lightly brushing hands, or generally tussling each other about. This one had a bit more of their romantic antics than book 6, so I was satisfied.
Social status plays its part here as it does in all of these novels. A man’s station in society allows him to ruin reputations while remaining untainted by his own participation in scandal. The dismissal of a civil servant, a man arguably in a pivotal position of power, by a man whose only claim to fame is money and name. But, the more interesting theme here is how women are perceived at different points in their lives. Charlotte’s disguise as Mrs. Ramsay puts her in the enviable position of being interesting enough for dinner conversation or a stroll around the deck, but generally overlooked as harmless. While the youth of other women (a socialite, a governess, and a businesswoman with a scandalous employment history) makes them targets for harassment, shame and blame.
As always, these books are a delight to read and, even after 7, have not become tiresome.