City of Lies
Counterfeit Lady #1
By Victoria Thompson
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer: Jeanie
Elizabeth Miles scours 1920’s Washington, D.C. for a killer in the first Counterfeit Lady novel from the author of the New York Times bestselling Gaslight mysteries.
Every woman plays a part—but some are more dangerous than others…
Like most women, Elizabeth Miles assumes many roles; unlike most, hers have made her a woman on the run. Living on the edge of society, Elizabeth uses her guile to relieve so-called respectable men of their ill-gotten gains. But brutal and greedy entrepreneur Oscar Thornton is out for blood. He’s lost a great deal of money and is not going to forgive a woman for outwitting him. With his thugs hot on her trail, Elizabeth seizes the moment to blend in with a group of women who have an agenda of their own.
She never expects to like or understand these privileged women, but she soon comes to respect their intentions, forming an unlikely bond with the wealthy matriarch of the group whose son Gabriel is the rarest of species—an honest man in a dishonest world. She knows she’s playing a risky game, and her deception could be revealed at any moment, possibly even by sharp-eyed Gabriel. Nor has she been forgotten by Thornton, who’s biding his time within this gilded orbit, waiting to strike. Elizabeth must draw on her wits and every last ounce of courage she possesses to keep her new life from being cut short by this vicious shadow from her past. (from Goodreads)
I love this fabulous first in a new series! Victoria Thompson introduces A Counterfeit Lady Novel series with amazing creativity, a protagonist who is likable despite herself, and excellent historical depictions that show me what life was like for my grandparents’ generation. It takes place during the Great War, which contributes to a layer of this page-turning mystery.
Elizabeth was no stranger to jails. She has been trained by the best to school her features so no one could see her feelings, and she could read others’ through even minute affections. She was a stranger to being treated like a lady. She never had any female friends, never knew what it was like to talk about whatever it is normal people talk about. She had no dreams of being in “society” as anything other than a grifter, preying on innocents for her and her partner’s gain.
When she joined a women’s suffragist protest outside the White House, she was not doing so for any other reason than to hide from the thugs chasing her. Amid a crowd of women who are surrounded by police, nobody would dare drag her away. The women were then arrested and as far as Elizabeth was concerned, jail was the safest place to be. A man that she and her brother Jake had conned for a lot of money was irate. His goons were beating her brother out one side of the hotel they were in and their partner sent her out another door. Who would’ve thought her life would change so much from being in jail, then a workhouse, with the extraordinary women on the front lines of the protests for voting rights!
While in jail and the workhouse, Elizabeth helps a young woman named Anna, who has never met anyone as strong as Elizabeth. Anna had joined Mrs. Bates, a dear friend of her mother’s, for the protest and surprisingly, Elizabeth finds herself caring about these women and their needs, and was uncomfortable with her charade. She is even more surprised when the women are set free from the workhouse and Anna begs her to come home and stay with her. She has no illusions of grandeur; she wants to see Anna safely to her home in New York City, then go to the Old Man to help her get far away before the thugs catch up to her again.
Victoria Thompson defines her characters so well! She spends far less ink on their clothing, far more on their thoughts, dialog, and actions. This reader is able to empathize with Elizabeth more and more throughout the novel. She is becoming someone she never thought she would, even though she knows she has to leave. Elizabeth, Anna and her family, Mrs. Bates and her son are thoroughly portrayed and likable.
There are both subtle and huge plot twists. Characters’ reactions are quite surprising, considering the situations. While we do learn who the worst bad guy is early in the novel, the depth of his depravity is demonstrated through the cat and mouse game he and his thugs follow Elizabeth on. The end held several surprises, some that this reader wished for and some I could not have thought possible. This is the start of a delightful, suspenseful, explosive new series taking place during World War I that stretches and highlights the talents of this popular author, and I highly recommend reading City of Lies.