Tuesday, 7 May 2019
#CBR11 Book 16: "The Hollow of Fear" by Sherry Thomas
Audio book length: 10 hrs, 51 mins
Rating: 4 stars
Spoiler warning! This is book 3 in an ongoing series. For those who prefer to go into a series completely unspoiled, this review will probably reveal details about the earlier books in the series. The story will also make a lot more sense if you start at the beginning, with A Study in Scarlet Women.
Under the cover of “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” Charlotte Holmes puts her extraordinary powers of deduction to good use. Aided by the capable Mrs. Watson, Charlotte draws those in need to her and makes it her business to know what other people don’t.
Moriarty’s shadow looms large. First, Charlotte’s half brother disappears. Then, Lady Ingram, the estranged wife of Charlotte’s close friend Lord Ingram, turns up dead on his estate. And all signs point to Lord Ingram as the murderer.
With Scotland Yard closing in, Charlotte goes under disguise to seek out the truth. But uncovering the truth could mean getting too close to Lord Ingram—and a number of malevolent forces…
In the two previous books, Charlotte has appeared calm, logical, unflappable and unemotional. In this book, all evidence suggests that her best friend, Lord Ingram, has murdered his estranged wife and disposed of her in the ice house of his country estate and rather than investigating matters that merely provide an intellectual challenge, the stakes are deeply personal for Charlotte and the stakes have never been higher. While Charlotte is convinced that Lord Ingram is blameless, the evidence really is rather damning, and she and her associates will have to work ceaselessly to prove his innocence to the police and society at large.
Complicating matters is the fact that the dead body of Lady Ingram was found during a house party, when Lord Ingram's estate was full of guests (one of them being Charlotte's sister Livia). While Charlotte has previously posed as Sherlock Holmes' sister in previous investigations, she now dons the disguise of yet another fictional man, Sherringford Holmes, an indolent dandy and brother to the legendary Sherlock. This allows her to question guests and investigate more closely, without having to worry about Charlotte Holmes' already fraught reputation.
While the case could have disastrous results for Lord Ingram if Charlotte cannot clear his name, the investigation also forces him and Charlotte into much closer proximity than usual, and the attraction between them (always palpable, but never acted upon because of Ingram's marriage) becomes impossible to ignore. While he has become widowed by terrible circumstance, Lord Ingram and Charlotte suddenly face no impediments, should they decide to act on the simmering passion between them.
As with the previous books, this mystery takes a number of unexpected twists and turns. With each book, it also becomes obvious that Charlotte is a lot less of an unfeeling automaton than society perceives her, she just experiences emotions differently from a lot of others, and she is deeply private. Her best friend (and the man she quite probably loves) is accused of murder, and if she cannot clear his name, he may face the gallows, leaving his children orphaned. Even with the aid of her many friends and associates, she needs to work harder than ever before.
With this book, I am also caught up with the series, and now have to count the months impatiently until the next book is released. Sherry Thomas' newsletter suggests that the fourth book will be more light hearted in tone, featuring an art heist, among other things (it sounds awesome!), and I await the release with bated breath.
Judging a book by its cover: I absolutely love the various shades of blue and the feeling of cold and slight menace it somehow evokes in me. I'm not entirely sure why our cloaked lady with her back to us is walking through a snowy landscape, this book does not take place in the winter at all. It would be nice if the publishers could take things like that into account when selecting cover images.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.