A Conspiracy in Belgravia
Lady Sherlock Mystery, Book #3
By Sherry Thomas
Author Website: http://sherrythomas.com/
Being shunned by Society gives Charlotte Holmes the time and freedom to put her extraordinary powers of deduction to good use. As “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” aided by the capable Mrs. Watson, she’s had great success helping with all manner of inquiries, but she’s not prepared for the new client who arrives at her Upper Baker Street office.
Lady Ingram, wife of Charlotte’s dear friend and benefactor, wants Sherlock Holmes to find her first love, who failed to show up at their annual rendezvous. Matters of loyalty and discretion aside, the case becomes even more personal for Charlotte as the missing man is none other than Myron Finch, her illegitimate half brother.
In the meanwhile, Charlotte wrestles with a surprising proposal of marriage, a mysterious stranger woos her sister Livia, and an unidentified body that surfaces where least expected. Charlotte’s investigative prowess is challenged as never before: Can she find her brother in time—or will he, too, end up as a nameless corpse somewhere in the belly of London? (Goodreads)
A Conspiracy in Belgravia, the second book in the brilliant Lady Sherlock Mystery series, is even better than its predecessor, A Study in Scarlet Women. Sherry Thomas masterfully brings a fresh Sherlock Holmes incarnate for the twenty-first century.
Sometimes my favorite books are those I have the hardest time reviewing. As is the case here, I want to excitedly tell you everything, but then that would spoil the experience of each unfolding element of the story. And that is the best part of books that stay with you, discovering the beauty in each page. Thomas pens a tightly constructed, complex mystery and doles out clues one at a time so that you think you know what is going on only to have the next clue tear your theories to shreds. The plot is so well conceived and executed that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would himself be proud.
After Charlotte Holmes’s self-orchestrated fall from respectable society, she finds herself living with former actress and war widow Mrs. John Watson. Together they have set up the elaborate ruse of an extremely ill and bedridden Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective. Since Sherlock cannot leave his sickbed, his “sister” Charlotte meets as a go-between with clients and, occasionally, the police. Only a handful of people know Sherlock’s true identity, including her oldest (only) friend and benefactor Lord Ingram, Ingram’s brother Lord Bancroft, her sister Livia, and Inspector Treadle. Charlotte finds herself in a bit of a pickle when her new client is none other than Lord Ingram’s wife who wants Sherlock to find out what happened to the man she loved before she married since he did not appear at their planned annual rendezvous. Charlotte is torn by her loyalty to Lord Ingram but decides to carry out the investigation. To make matters worse, Lady Ingram’s love is Myron Finch – Charlotte’s illegitimate half brother. And with that, the game is afoot. Throw in a another client who is confident her father’s housekeeper is trying to poison her, a marriage proposal that has no basis in love, an almost uncrackable cipher that leads to a murdered man, and criminal mastermind Moriarty, and Charlotte has plenty to keep her brilliant mind occupied.
The characters are all meticulously drawn and fascinating. There is enough reminiscent to Doyle’s iconic personas for Thomas’s characters to be familiar, yet she gives them quirks of their own. Charlotte is indeed exceedingly clever, logical, and eccentric, but the addition of her sisters, one of whom has taken the mantle of writing about Sherlock’s adventures, and her conflicted feelings for Lord Ingram make her more than an intellect. Lord Ingram is an honorable gentleman with feelings of his own for Charlotte, but he trapped in a farce of a marriage. He and his brother Lord Bancroft do the “Crown’s business”, all very cloak and dagger. Mrs. Watson makes a formidable sidekick for Charlotte, and Inspector Treadle’s inability to come to terms with Sherlock being a woman and his wife’s own aspirations represents the strongly held beliefs that women were far inferior to men in the Victorian era.
A Conspiracy in Belgravia is among my top reads of 2017, and I impatiently await the next installment in the series. Highly recommended!