A Conspiracy in Belgravia
by Sherry Thomas
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5 “Ciphers, Marriage Proposals & True Allegiances” Stars!
Wow! Lovers of mysteries and strong & smart heroines will not want to miss A Conspiracy in Belgravia! This book blew me away with its cleverness and intrigue as well as the incredible attention and detail paid to character development and the continued flirtation with the possibility of a romance.
Two notes of caution should be noted though. First this book is best enjoyed after A Study in Scarlett Women (book 1 of the Lady Sherlock Series). Both the mystery as well as the character development, including the interrelationships between the main characters feed off of developments in the first book making it crucial that you read the debut of this series first for maximum understanding of the setting and to best be able to pick-up on subtle clues and potential angles. Additionally as I mostly read romances, I feel compelled to note that while there is definitely a possibility of romance in this series over its entire arc, Books 1 and 2 love to dangle the possibility of such an occasion without much progress on this front. This book is primarily and almost entirely a historical mystery. Nonetheless for those historical romance lovers, the romantic tension, indeed even the possibility of a love triangle, are very much at play in A Conspiracy in Belgravia.
The twistier and better the book, the harder I find it to provide any sort of a book description in my review. This book is certainly no exception. So as not to inadvertently potentially reveal any spoilers, I will keep my story description brief and primarily limited to what is already revealed in the blurb with my own slight gloss.
Namely, A Conspiracy in Belgravia picks up shortly after the point in time at which A Study in Scarlett Women concludes. Charlotte Holmes has just recently sleuthed her first big case as “Sherlock Holmes.” Now its time to move on to another case, and quite surprisingly her next client turns out to be none other than Lord Ingram’s wife–though Lady Ingram never meets Charlotte in her quest. Instead, given that Lady Ingram might recognize Charlotte, Charlotte and Mrs. Watson stage a new medium for the reclusive and “sick” Sherlock Holmes to communicate through. This new medium turns out to be Mrs. Watson’s niece. And the case that Ms. Ingram asks Sherlock Holmes to solve nearly causes Charlotte to choke on one of her many delicious pastries: namely Lady Ingram wants Holmes to find her first love who neglected to show up at their annual meeting.
Of course, this case ends up really trying Charlotte’s loyalty. On the one hand, Charlotte would love nothing more than to be able to provide the stimulus for the end to Lady Ingram’s and Lord Ingram’s marriage (afterall there has been an undeniable attraction between Charlotte and Lord Ingram that began well before his marriage to Lady Ingram). On the other hand, she owes her client her loyalty as a professional detective. Of course, I’m sure you’re wondering why not just refuse the case outright then? Well, it turns out that one more fact that Lady Ingram reveals causes Charlotte to want to find the missing man almost as much as Lady Ingram: the missing lover’s name is Myron Finch (Charlotte’s illegitimate half-brother).
There are so many fascinating things about this story. And my description only scratches the surface. From Charlotte’s sister Livia to Lord Ingram’s brother, Lord Bancroft, interesting sub-plots plentifully emerge to entertain the lucky reader of this spell-binding story. If I had to narrow it down though I’d say that the evolution of the continuing theme of a woman’s “rightful” place in society in Victorian London and a wife’s dutiful station (at least in the eyes of her husband) as it relates to her ability to work and run a business and ultimately what’s really important in selecting a spouse provide the most fodder for entertainment. Moreover, these aspects of A Conspiracy in Belgravia are so wittingly written that they provide the reader with plenty of opportunities for introspection and contemplation. And then there is the mystery itself and its intersection and neatly woven interconnections which are simply amazing and provide great mental gymnastics for puzzle lovers. And then that ending, and all the possibilities yet to come! I simply can’t wait to get my hands on the next installment of this series!
Source: Paperback giveaway copy. Thank you Berkley Publishing!