Book two of Thomas's Lady Sherlock series offers a robust dual mystery, clever female characters, priceless gems of insight from Charlotte, a continued rejection of Victorian society's rigid expectations, and a bubbling undercurrent of forbidden attraction.
“To be thought of as the perfect woman for a man isn’t a compliment to a woman, it’s more about how a man sees himself—and what he needs.”
A Study in Scarlet Women was the first book in Sherry Thomas's gender-flipped Sherlock Holmes mystery series. It offered not only an irresistible heroine, but a fascinating examination of gender in Victorian society--and what happens when women blow up expectations.
I listened to the audiobook of the second in Thomas's Lady Sherlock series (read wonderfully by Kate Reading), in which Charlotte Holmes returns in all of her feisty, unconventional, clever glory, despite the significant constraints on women and their behavior in Victorian England.
And then Sherlock Holmes had turned out to be a woman with loose morals and no remorse.
Charlotte is faced with an unexpected client: Lady Ingram, the wife of Charlotte's dear friend and benefactor Lord Ingram. Lady Ingram is seeking confidential answers to the mystery of the disappearance of someone revealed as her one true love--who also happens to be Charlotte's illegitimate half brother.
Charlotte is torn between her duty to assist her client and her duty to reveal the hurtful truth to her friend as she dives into solving this complicated mystery--with the help of her resourceful partners Mrs. Watson and her independent-minded niece Penelope.
The mystery leads Charlotte to discover various illuminating aspects to Lord Ingram's past and his marriage, and her simmering (and shared) attraction to Ingram is a powerful undercurrent throughout, although practical Charlotte keeps all outrageous emotions and possibilities in check.
I was thrilled that this book didn't involve a male proxy by which Charlotte explored avenues of discovery--this was a small all-woman cast of strong, defiant, clever women assessing and intuiting their way to the truth.
Of course. Now she saw the error of her ways. She had been so consumed by the Vigenère cipher that she—horrors—hadn’t been eating properly. A quick glance at the mirror told her that she was down to only one point three chins. No wonder her brain was so slow and unwieldy, like a steam engine on the last shovel of coal.
Two more madeleines and she felt like a new woman.
Charlotte's various views on the world are absolute gems, and I absolutely love spending time in her point of view. I can't wait to read all of the other books in this series!
Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?
A Study in Scarlet Women is the first book in Sherry Thomas's gender-flipped Sherlock Holmes mystery series, and I loved it. There are seven books in all.
This series invites comparisons to another fantastic Victorian-era-set mystery series featuring a strong, smart heroine who bucks convention, Deanna Raybourn's Veronica Speedwell series (A Curious Beginning, A Perilous Undertaking, A Treacherous Curse, and six more).
The mysteries in Thomas's Lady Sherlock series seem more robust and complex than those in Raybourn's series thus far, with Raybourn's character development taking more center stage in that series, but I adore both of these series.