I liked this one, but the mystery plot got convoluted at the end and I had to re-read several bits multiple times, and stop and think about things before it all came together for me. That confusion aside, this also didn’t have as high of emotional stakes for the characters I cared most about. The biggest stakes are for Inspector and Mrs. Treadles, since Inspector Treadles has been accused of two murders. Reasonably, as it turns out, as he was found in a locked room with two dead bodies and his service pistol, recently fired. And he’s refusing to explain himself to anyone, including the police, his wife, and “Sherlock Holmes,” who his wife hires to find the real killer (or prove that Treadles did it).
There were SO many moving pieces to this mystery, and I think it’s to the author’s credit that it does work in the end, where in many other author’s hands the confusion would have never clarified into a whole.
We don’t get much in the way of character movement for our main players, Charlotte, Lord Ingram, Livia, or Mrs. Watson, but the conflict between Mrs. and Inspector Treadles has now been resolved, as he now accepts her new position, and he also now accepts that Charlotte is right to be doing what she’s doing, fallen woman though she is. The stick hath been removed from his bottom.
[3.5 stars, rounded up]