As "Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective," Charlotte Holmes has solved murders and found missing individuals. But she has never stolen a priceless artwork—or rather, made away with the secrets hidden behind a much-coveted canvas.
But Mrs. Watson is desperate to help her old friend recover those secrets and Charlotte finds herself involved in a fever-paced scheme to infiltrate a glamorous Yuletide ball where the painting is one handshake away from being sold and the secrets a bare breath from exposure.
Her dear friend Lord Ingram, her sister Livia, Livia's admirer Stephen Marbleton—everyone pitches in to help and everyone has a grand time. But nothing about this adventure is what it seems and disaster is biding time on the grounds of a glittering French chateau, waiting only for Charlotte to make a single mistake...
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Miss Olivia Holmes often found other women intimidating: the beautiful ones, the fashionable ones, the well-connected ones. And if they were all three at once, then she was certain to feel like a lowly grouse that had somehow wandered into an ostentation of peacocks.
The woman in front of her was handsome, rather than beautiful. She could not possibly be well-connected. And her attire would have bored Charlotte, Livia's frippery-loving sister, to sleep; even Livia, who leaned toward the austere in her tastes, thought her guest's visiting gown could use something: a brighter color, a more tactile texture, even a few folds and tucks to enliven the monotonous wintry blue of her skirt.
Yet Livia had never been as intimidated by a woman as she was now.
"Milk? Sugar?" she croaked. "And would you care for some Madeira cake, Mrs. Openshaw?"
Mrs. Openshaw was otherwise known as Mrs. Marbleton, who was otherwise known as the late Mrs. Moriarty. And she wasn't really dead.
She inclined her head. "Thank you, Miss Holmes. Madeira cake would be delightful."
"Excellent choice," enthused Lady Holmes. "My housekeeper makes an exceptional Madeira cake."
The Holmes family used to have a cook who made good cakes, when she'd been given the proper allowance for ingredients. But that cook had left their service several years ago, and the current cook was at best an indifferent baker. And the family hadn't employed a housekeeper, who presided over a stillroom of her own, in decades-certainly never in Livia's memory.
Livia would not have bragged about any cakes from the Holmes kitchen, not when their quality, or lack thereof, could be ascertained with a single bite. But her mother was a woman of scant foresight, for whom the pleasure of boasting in this moment always outweighed the embarrassment of eating her words in the next.
Their caller, who had already dined once in their household and had followed with an afternoon call, wisely set down the plate of Madeira cake Livia handed her.
Lady Holmes launched into a monologue on the importance of her family in the surrounding area (lies and exaggerations), and the advantageous match her eldest daughter had made (Livia wouldn't touch Mr. Cumberland, Henrietta's husband, with a ten-foot pole).
Then again, that might be why Livia herself approached spinsterhood at an alarming speed: There were too many men she wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole-and she was invisible to all the rest.
When he'd unexpectedly walked into her house five days ago, she'd been so astounded-and enraptured-that she hadn't immediately noticed that he wasn't alone.
With him had come his parents.
Her pleasure had-well, not soured exactly, but been marred by enough tension and discomfort that she'd spent the rest of the evening on edge, unable to enjoy herself. Charlotte, in telling Livia about this young man, had been frank about the dangers of his existence-a hunted family, without a fixed abode or a trusted wider community, always on the move and never safe for long.
Livia, to her credit, had not imbued that life with any romance or excitement. She'd been deeply concerned, but even in her deepest concern she had not foreseen that-
"And what are your plans for this winter, Miss Holmes?"
Livia started. When had Mrs. Marbleton silenced Lady Holmes and taken charge of the conversation? She must have done so with sufficient skill, since Lady Holmes still gazed upon her with an intense and almost fearful hope.
That naked aspiration mortified Livia. But for her own purposes, Livia counted on Lady Holmes's zeal for at least one more married daughter.
"I do very much enjoy a country Christmas," said Livia in answer to Mrs. Marbleton's question, not that she'd ever known any other kind of Christmas. "And you, ma'am, have you anything in mind for you and your family?"
This was a question she'd intended to ask anyway.
Mrs. Marbleton studied her for a minute. "I have been thinking," she said with a certain deliberateness, "of the South of France. Winter is not the most charming season on this sceptred isle. The C™te d'Azur, on the other hand, has a sunny, temperate disposition even in December."
Livia yearned to visit the South of France. She didn't need to feign wistfulness as she replied, "Oh, how lovely that sounds. I can already imagine the aquamarine waters of the Mediterranean."
"We might also spend only a day or two on the coast, and the rest of our time inland," mused Mrs. Marbleton. "In Aix-en-Provence, perhaps. Or in a little hilltop village in the Alpes-Maritimes. Sitting by a roaring fire, sipping local wine, and savoring peasant stews, while looking down toward the distant sea."
Livia felt a pang of homesickness for a life she had never known. She reminded herself that she must not forget that the Marbletons had been on the run or in hiding for at least two decades. That as alluring as Mrs. Marbleton made the experience sound, it couldn't have been all sybaritic contentment. That even as they wined and dined and wallowed in the panoramic views, their pleasures were veined with fear and their lives riddled with instability.
"I daresay I don't have the courage to try French peasant fare. I'd be afraid of a frog in every pot," said Lady Holmes, laughing too loudly at her own joke.
Mrs. Marbleton did not respond to that. "And you, Miss Holmes, how would you fare in the French countryside?"
"Oh, I'll be all right, ma'am. I don't pay too much mind to my suppers. If there is sunshine I can walk beneath, and a good book to read in peace and quiet, then I'll be happy."
This earned her another considering look from Mrs. Marbleton.
Not an approving look, but at least not a contemptuous one. Mrs. Marbleton had her mind quite made up about Lady Holmes, but she didn't seem to have an equally decided view concerning Livia. Yet.
Livia didn't know what to make of it.
The door opened then, and her father and the Marbleton men came in-Sir Henry had taken the gentlemen to his study to inspect his latest acquisition of Cuban cigars, an extravagance the family could ill afford.
The senior Mr. Marbleton walked with a slight limp. Whether as a result of natural grace or sheer willpower, his strides gave the impression of near nimbleness, as if the ground he traversed were uneven, rather than his gait. And unlike Sir Henry, who put on a heartiness that seemed to say, Look how well pleased I am with myself. Could anything be amiss in my life?, Mr. Crispin Marbleton did not bother to convey any great conviviality. But in his soft-spoken words and his occasional smiles, especially those directed at his wife and his son, Livia thought she glimpsed a warmth that he reserved for his inner circle.
The younger Mr. Marbleton exuded far greater liveliness. It really was a shame that he'd led such a peripatetic life, never staying in one place for long: Livia could easily see him as a favorite among any gathering of young people, one whose good cheer and easy demeanor made his company sought after by both gentlemen and ladies.
She looked into her teacup.
She had longed to see him again, but she hadn't been ready to meet his parents. Even his sister had been on hand, he'd told her, sitting in the servants' hall disguised as their groom, visiting with the house's meager staff.
They barely knew each other. They'd had three conversations months ago, during the Season, while he pretended to be someone else. Since then, he'd sent her a few small tokens of his regard, but had not appeared before her again until the dinner five nights ago, as she sat expecting Sir Henry's newest business associate and his family.
Thank goodness her parents still had no idea what was going on, still thought of young Mr. Openshaw as an excellent but unlikely prospect for Livia. Everyone else, however, knew the true purpose of the visits: Stephen Marbleton was serious enough about Livia that his parents had no choice but to meet-and judge-her in person.
Too soon. Too soon. When she didn't even know whether she wished to maintain her affection for him or to let it wither away in his continued absence-the wiser choice, given that the life he led was not one she would have chosen for herself.
The parlor filled with small talk, carried on capably by Stephen Marbleton. But soon Lady Holmes inquired, with no preamble and even less subtlety, whether young Mr. Openshaw would care for a stroll in the garden, accompanied by her daughter. Stephen Marbleton responded with just the right amount of enthusiasm to please, but not embarrass, Livia.
But as they exited the house, properly coated and gloved against the damp, chilly day, her heart palpitated with apprehension.
No, with dread.
What if he should offer her the choice to leave behind her current existence, which she hated, for something that would not resemble anything she'd ever known?
She didn't know whether she dared to commit herself to Mr. Marbleton. She didn't know whether marriage would suit her-her sister Charlotte wasn't the only Holmes girl with deeply skeptical views on matrimony. And above all else, she didn't know-though she had an unhappy suspicion-whether a trying marriage wouldn't turn her into an exact replica of her disappointing mother.
Livia glanced back at the house. Through the rain-streaked window of the parlor her mother was just visible, gesticulating with too much force. Lady Holmes could be vain, petty, and coarse, sometimes all at once. Yet Livia still saw, on the rare occasion, the echo of the girl Lady Holmes must have been, once upon a time. Before she fell in love with Sir Henry Holmes, before she learned to her lasting bitterness that Sir Henry had never reciprocated her sentiments-and had courted her only to spite his former fiance, Lady Amelia Drummond, by marrying another on the day originally intended for their wedding.
And the ghost of that girl reminded Livia uncomfortably of herself: She too possessed a fierce pride, alongside a bottomless need for affection and a desire to give that warred constantly with the fear of rejection.
Trapped in a miserable marriage, far away from family and friends, having for companions only a philandering husband and a quartet of difficult children, Lady Holmes had succumbed to all the worst tendencies of her character and hardened into an utterly unlovely woman.
Livia stepped on the garden path. The uneven gravel poked into the thinning soles of her Wellington boots-a sensation of jabbing discomfort, much like her awareness of the unlovelier elements in her own character. She could hold a grudge-oh, how she could hold a grudge. She was angry at the world and mistrustful of people. She wanted too much-wealth, fame, wild acclaim, not to mention abject groveling from everyone who had ever slighted her, however unintentionally.
Could the young man next to her, strolling lightly on the leaf-strewn garden path, know all that? Or was he under the illusion that she was someone whose gratitude at being rescued would ensure that she would remain a happy, pliant partner for the rest of her life?
"I think we fear the same thing," he said softly. "That you would choose me-and someday regret your choice."
She halted midstep. Their eyes met; his were clear, but with a trace of melancholy. For a fraction of a moment it hurt that he had fears-that his feelings for her hadn't inspired an invulnerable courage, blind to all obstacles. And then relief inundated her, so much so that her heart beat wildly and her fingertips tingled, as if they were recovering sensation after being chilled to the bone.
"I mistrust myself," she said, resuming her progress. "I'm not happy here, and there's a chance I'll bring that unhappiness with me wherever I go. I'd be concerned to be asked to make a home for anyone."
"Some people are like desert plants, needing only a bit of condensate and perhaps a rainstorm every few years. The rest of us require decent soil and a reasonable climate. It is no fault of yours not to have thrived at the edge of a desert. Your eldest sister married a stupid man at the earliest opportunity to get away. Your younger sister chose to shed her respectability rather than to remain under your father's thumb."
Charlotte would have preferred to overthrow their father's control while keeping that respectability, but Livia understood his argument. "They are women of strength. I would label Henrietta a brute, but brutes know what they want and they care not what impediments stand in their path. And while Charlotte is no brute, she is both ruthless and resilient.
"More than anything else I envy her that resilience. She goes around if she cannot go through-and a cup of tea and a slice of cake seem to be all she needs to keep herself even-keeled. But I will work myself into a state. I will teeter between desperate hope and black despair. And I fear that I will not bend but simply break, should life become too heavy to bear."
He sighed. The sound conveyed no impatience, only a deep wistfulness. "You are telling me that before you can be sure of your affections, you must be sure of yourself."
And she was so very unsure of herself.
"I will gladly attribute some of the blame to Charlotte. She has always viewed romantic love as highly perishable."
"I hold a slightly more optimistic view of romantic love. I see it not as doomed to spoilage but as prone to change. Yes, it can dwindle to nothing. Or harden into bitterness and enmity. But it can also ripen like a fine vintage, becoming something with extraordinary depth and maturity."
He spoke with confidence and conviction. Briefly her gloved hand came to rest against the topmost button of her bodice. How did it feel to hold such lovely, uplifting views-was it like having been born with wings? His views did not change her own, but she rued that her own beliefs were nowhere near as luminous.
The garden path turned-she'd been waiting for this moment, when they would be temporarily hidden from view by an arbor. She gave him a letter. "Will you drop this in the post for my sister?"
He stowed the missive inside his coat. "Of course."
His cheeks were pink with cold. He wore a beard as he had in summer, when they first met, but this beard was much shorter, the accumulation of a fortnight at most. She wondered how it would feel against her palm-and was astonished both at the direction of her thoughts and that she had lived to be twenty-seven and never had a thought like that before.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3.5 stars Do you ever just come across a book that by all accounts you should absolutely love, and then you just don’t? Well that’s what happened to me with the Lady Sherlock series. I picked up the first book fully ready to be hooked and in love with this series only to feel let down and disappointed. I don’t even think I finished the first book and I didn’t pick up any of the others in the series. I was heart broken and as the years have gone on, I keep thinking I should pick this series up again because it should be a series that I love. Sassy heroines, Victorian England, murder mysteries. I should be all over this series. But I kept my distance, too fearful that I wouldn’t like it. Then I was pitched the fourth book in the series and I was once again faced with the debate—-do I pass or not? I almost passed because I was too afraid I wouldn’t like it but again, it’s a series that I should love and I was frankly too upset about that to pass on this one. So I decided to give Lady Sherlock another try. So I tried to in to this one with my mind open. This is a ‘gender bender’ type book where Sherlock Holmes is actually a woman, and I thought that was an exciting twist right off the bat. Though I did know that from my first attempt with the first book, but I think it’s worth noting for new readers. Having Sherlock Holmes actually be a woman rather than a man right away puts readers in a familiar yet different position with this detective. I haven’t gone back and read the other books, mostly because I felt like my opinion of this book was already clouded by my attempt at the first book and I didn’t want to complicate it further. I did feel slightly confused by all the characters and how they knew each other and what sort of history they had, but that confusion only happened at the beginning. Not that the author clarified anything necessarily, it was more that the central mystery part took over and I became wrapped up in that rather than some of the character relations. So reading the other books will certainly help and would have made the beginning a little easier to follow, but in the end the mystery was the focus and I didn’t feel terribly lost in this one as the story went on. As with many historical mysteries, there is often a secondary romantic plot line and this book does include a little romance and I rather enjoyed that part of the book. I know that Thomas has written romance novels as well and that reflects in this romantic plot line as Charlotte and Lord Ingram as they have great chemistry, however I was hoping their romantic plot would advance a little more in this one but perhaps there have been leaps and bounds in the previous books and this one was meant to slow it down? I am not sure since I haven’t read the others, but for me there was undeniable chemistry between them but I kept hoping for more by the end. This book series seems to be one that people either love or just don’t. I was firmly in the ‘don’t’ camp, but after this book, I have warmed to the idea of picking it up again. There are plenty of people who loved this one and while I might not have loved it, I did like it and enjoyed picking up this series again to give it another try. Would I read the other books in the series or future books? Absolutely! I am actually going to go back and read the first one and see if I like it better this time around!
Since Sherlock Holmes is always indisposed, his sister Charlotte fills in for him – much to prospective clients’ chagrin. Soon they find the confidence to hire Charlotte to solve their problems. This novel takes Charlotte and her ‘team’ of friends to France in search of a painting and other assorted items that pose a threat to an important client. Sherry Thomas uses subtle humor and great pacing to advance the plot culminating in an exciting event that placed me in the middle of the scene. I loved that! The epilogue foreshadows the next book which made me happy and anticipating where Charlotte and her friends’ next task will take them. Recommended to fans of Sherry Thomas, historical mysteries, and a good story.
I have loved every single book of this series so far! I find them witty and entertaining, Throughout the whole book I find myself wondering just how everything is going to come together and how they're going to pull everything off. Wouldn't this be a great Hulu or Netflix series?!?! let's start a petition! SPOILER ALERT!!......... The cliffhanger with Mr. Marbelton was great. I immediately thought, okay the next book is going to be about rescuing him and maybe putting a sizeable dent in Moriarty's organization. Then Mrs. Treadles walked in. I was a little disappointed to think that the next book is going to be about solving another murder but if these books have taught us anything it's that it is always more complicated then it seems. I Can't wait to read the next one!
great book, the endinf was tough. When is the next one coming out?
There is nothing I love more than reading stories that have elaborate cons in them and The Art of Theft had a doozy in it! In this story, Mrs. Watson’s past becomes part of the present with the re-introduction of a person that she knew many years ago. It was a rather scandalous history but with a parting that left Mrs. Watson feeling regretful. When Mrs. Watson learned that her friend was in need of assistance, given this chance to help her friend, she wanted nothing more. Charlotte was, of course, supportive of Mrs. Watson’s desire, although she did caution her as to the challenges but in the end, Charlotte was willing to help Mrs. Watson. Given the extent of what they were being tasked with, Charlotte and Watson knew they would need to rely on more than just their skills and deduction abilities. To that end, they had to bring a few friends into their confidence in order to even have a prayer of retrieving the priceless piece of art work that they have been tasked with obtaining. What seemed like a monumental task from the start grew in size when it became apparent to all involved that there was more at stake than was first explained and that they were all in grave danger. With everything to lose and little to gain, Charlotte, Watson, and companions were faced with incredible odds and, for one of them, a blow so dreadful that death would have been more kind. The Art of Theft started out at a good pace and picked up speed to end in a race against the clock. I loved every single minute! I appreciated that there was a greater emphasis on Mrs. Watson, her past, and her heart. She shocked me ever so much and I liked that she had a second chance to amend a piece of her past that she felt regret for. Surprisingly, Charlotte was not her customary self in this story and both she and Lord Ingram spent time with self-reflection. Their relationship had indeed changed due to the actions taken in the previous book, The Hollow of Fear, and they were both in a state of consideration of where things could or should go between them. My fingers are crossed for something magical but you never know with the always logical Charlotte. Also, I think Charlotte has a delicious secret that was possibly hinted at during this story! I could be wrong, ha ha ha, but I think I am right. With that in mind and with the way that The Art of Theft ended, I am very much looking forward to reading the next installment in the Lady Sherlock series! This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.
Have I mentioned how much I love Sherry Thomas's Lady Sherlock series? Because I loooooove this series. And book #4 was just another amazing addition. Warning: The following review may contain spoilers for books #1-3. "The Art of Theft" picks up shortly after the events in book #3, "The Hollow of Fear". (You don't have to have read any of the previous books in the series, but it definitely helps.) Charlotte and Lord Ingram are circling each other once again, now that their liaison, prompted by the events of Charlotte's last case, has ended; feelings are further complicated now that Lord Ingram has initiated divorce proceedings now that Lady Ingram has run away after turning traitor against both The Crown and Moriarty. Then Mrs. Watson gets her share of The Feels when one of her old flames, a Maharani from India, comes seeking the help of Sherlock Holmes after she's been blackmailed. Now Mrs. Watson, Charlotte, Livia (Charlotte's sister), Mr. Marbleton, and Lord Ingram are headed to France to con their way into an exclusive ball and art auction to try to steal back the blackmail materials. Things become extra complicated when it turns out the Maharani hasn't been entirely truthful about her blackmail situation, and then Lady Ingram shows back up and threatens to blow their cover. This books was an absolute thrill ride from beginning to end. Although it didn't shock me quite as much as the ending plot twist of "Hollow of Fear", I still enjoyed it thoroughly; it was everything I've come to expect from the excellence that is Sherry Thomas. Not only is Charlotte Holmes delightful in her roll as the famous Consulting Detective (I absolutely love how her brain works, and her ability to discomfit other characters with her insights is a source of neverending amusement), I love that I haven't once been able to figure out an ending to any of the books in this series (this is not usually the case with mysteries I read). But I have to say my absolute favorite bit is reading the interactions between Lord Ingram and Charlotte Holmes. Sherry Thomas is a master at crafting tension between these two characters and watching their relationship develop over the series has been an absolute delight. Overall, I say this is definitely my favorite new release of the year, and I highly recommend this title, as well as the other books in the series if you haven't picked them up already.
The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas is Historical Mystery Fiction. In this series, each book stands on its own but for complete understanding and enjoyment reading the entire series in order is helpful. Charlotte Holmes is a Detective in Victorian England and an exciting independent woman of her era. Miss Holmes has thrilling cases and adventures in each book and this new book is no exception. Holmes methods like her namesake are very unusual. I love the intricate plans and plots that are slowly revealed. Each character is complex and their relationships to other characters can be surprising. If you love intrigue, romance and remarkable mysteries read the book and the series. I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I appreciate the opportunity and thank the author and publisher for allowing me to read, enjoy and review this book.
This book was received as an ARC from Berkley Publishing Group - Berkley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. I am a fan of the Lady Sherlock series and was so excited to hear the release of The Art of Theft. This one by far was my absolute favorite because this book contained every twist and turn imaginable and they only made the book better. Knowing the background of Charlotte and the cases she embarks in the first three books it was no surprise that this book was even more twisted than the last. Having the backstory of Charlotte and her involvement with the thievery of the artwork and the long kept secrets they entail. We will consider adding this title to our Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
Lady Charlotte, a/k/a Lady Sherlock, has a new mystery to solve which involves adventure and romance. A Maharani from India visits Lady Charlotte and at first decides she will not allow Lady Charlotte to help her because the Indian royalty does not believe Sherlock exists. Over a brief time, however, after the visits of Lord Ingram (who yearns for Charlotte as a lover) and Mr. Marbleton, who wants to court Livia, Livia’s sister, the plot is revealed. It turns out the Maharani has a weak son who rules but has made a serious mistake that if revealed could make them lose the support of the ruling British. The questions are many. What written secrets are hidden in the back of a painting about to be auctioned and perhaps sold at a ball being held in Paris, France. The Maharani’s son had contacts with Prussia in which the latter promised to militarily help against the British. But what’s on the papers is in code. Her son is now in ill health due to this international communication gone nowhere and these paper machinations may be very dangerous if recovered by the wrong people. Nevertheless, Lady Charlotte, with the help of Lord Ingram, Mr. Marbleton, and Livia set out to recover the papers. This involves learning more about the price of art, those who attend the ball and will auction after much eating and drinking. Does such partying increase the value and worth of famous and valuable paintings? Of course, danger lurks in their pursuit. Lord Ingram and Mr. Marbleton are almost drowned in the grounds of the site of the castle where the ball will be held. Meanwhile, romantic ideas increase as the characters discover what their intended lovers are really like in peaceful and chaotic times. It all proceeds even to the very cliff-hanger style ending which leaves the reader anxious to read more of this group’s daring adventures and hope that these romantic plans will become serious. For those who love a good mystery with lots of riddles and threats, this is your next read. Although this is the fourth novel in a series, it’s also an enticing stand-alone novel. Nicely crafted, indeed, Sherry Thomas! More please!
Linda's Book Obsession Reviews "The Art of Theft" by Sherry Thomas, Berkley Publishing, Oct. 15,2019. Sherry Thomas, author of "The Art of Theft" has written a unique and entertaining Victorian Historical Mystery. This is a take on "Sherlock Holmes" with Charlotte Holmes acting in the feminine version, with her sister and her friends, Mrs. Watson, Lord Ingram, and Stephen Marbleton, who seems to be hiding from an enemy.. The author describes her dramatic characters as complex and complicated. Mrs. Watson has a dignified royal friend who seeks Sherlock Holmes help, not realizing that Charlotte is the one that is very intuitive. Mrs. Watson's friend needs important certain secret papers back and decides to let Charlotte and friends help her. This involves possibly stealing Art or other items that might be hiding these papers during a reception at a fancy mansion. There are twists and turns, secrets, betrayals, blackmail, and threats of murder. Charlotte and her crew are entering at their own risk and danger. It seems there are other interested parties who want this painting and information as well. There are other books in this series, and truthfully, I was somewhat confused at the beginning of the book about the relationships involved. I did feel a loss and was a little confused at the beginning of the story. I had no idea when I chose this book to read that it was part of a continuing series. I would say that reading the other books would be beneficial. After finishing the story, I would go back and read the other books. Fortunately the mystery and suspense does get better, and I enjoyed the conclusion of the story. I would recommend this take on "Sherlock Holmes" for readers who enjoy historical mysteries.
I am sad to say that I never read a Sherlock Holmes book or watched a movie with Sherlock Holmes in it. I also didn’t read the first 3 books in this series. Taking all of that into consideration, I struggled at the beginning of this book to keep the characters straight and to follow the story. I am happy to say that I didn’t give up and I continued to read the book soon I was not wanting to stop reading, I wanted to learn more about the characters, and see how the story would end. The Art of Theft is a wonderful historical mystery. I love the setting of the Victorian Era. As I read, I was able to picture the beautiful houses, the amazing characters, and was curious as to if they would be able to help the Maharani. The characters all work together, help each other, and never question if they should be involved in the latest adventure.
A Re-imagined Sherlock Holmes as a Lady Detective Charlotte Holmes as Lady Sherlock solves crimes with the aid of her friend Mrs. Watson. She has invented Sherlock the detective as her ailing brother, but she and Mrs. Watson are the brains behind the detective work. In this case, a woman comes for a consultation. She listens to Charlotte’s explanation that her brother is listening in the next room, but leaves without engaging her services. It transpires that the client, the Maharani of Ajmer, is an old friend of Mrs. Watson. She’s in need of help to retrieve letters that could cause much embarrassment which are hidden behind a Van Dyck painting in Vaudrieu, a French chateau. Stealing paintings is not really Charlotte’s line, but she with her friends Lord Ingram, Livia, her sister, and Mr. Marbleton, Livia’s beau, agrees to help and plans to infiltrate the house during a ball, presenting challenge and danger to the friends. This series is a clever take-off on the original Sherlock Holmes stories. Although I found it amusing, it was hard to get into at first. This in not the first book in the series, so if you’re reading the series for the first time, it takes some thought to untangle the characters and background. Charlotte is an interesting character. She reflects on her life and friends and how she got to this place. I was hoping to see more of a romance with Lord Ingram, but they have both pulled back and seem to be evaluating where they want to go with their relationship. The Victorian background is well done. It highlights the restrictions placed on women trying to pursue a career. If you enjoy historical mysteries with a strong female protagonist, this is a good book. I received this book from Net Galley for this review.
This is one of those books that is hard to decide whether I like it or simply don’t care anything about it. Thomas’ books are chock-full of characters, some of whom she assumes every reader, whether returning to the series or starting the series with this book, will already know. Her main character is not all that likable because she’s a bit too full of herself. For me there was more not to like than to like. The author’s writing style is to start her book off slowly while we learn about Charlotte’s love of sweet things and her fear of getting a double chin – or two – from eating all those sweets and then go pell-mell to the ending and the fore-shadow of what will be in the next book. That being said, however, the writing is one of the saving graces of this book If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes and historical mysteries of the Victorian variety, then you might like this book. However, do read the first three in the series first lest you end up passing on the entire series because of this outing. My thanks to Berkley and Edelweiss for an eARC.