Saturday, 5 December 2020

#CBR12 Book 79: "Murder on Cold Street" by Sherry Thomas

Page count: 352 pages
Audio book length: 13 hrs 15 mins
Rating: 4 stars

Spoiler warning! This is the fifth book in an ongoing series, and as such, this review may and probably will contain spoilers for earlier books. If you're not caught up, go start at the beginning, with A Study in Scarlet Women

Official book description:
Inspector Treadles, Charlotte Holmes’s friend and collaborator, has been found locked in a room with two dead men, both of whom worked with his wife at the great manufacturing enterprise she has recently inherited.

Rumours fly. Had Inspector Treadles killed the men because they had opposed his wife’s initiatives at every turn? Had he killed in a fit of jealous rage, because he suspected Mrs Treadles of harbouring deeper feelings for one of the men? To make matters worse, he refuses to speak on his own behalf, despite the overwhelming evidence against him.

Charlotte finds herself in a case strewn with lies and secrets. But which lies are to cover up small sins, and which secrets would flay open a past better left forgotten? Not to mention, how can she concentrate on these murders, when Lord Ingram, her oldest friend and sometime lover, at last dangles before her the one thing she has always wanted?

For some reason, I got the impression when reading the fourth book in this series, either through interviews with the author or from some website or other, that this was going to be the final book in the series. I'm very happy to discover that I was wrong, and rather than being a heavily "arc-based" story, this feels more like a bridging book in the series. In the last book, most of our characters went off to France to pull off an audacious art heist. In this book, Charlotte Holmes and Lord Ingram have to work together against a ticking clock to clear the name of their friend, Inspector Threadles, who was arrested after being found, covered in blood and brandishing his service revolver, in a locked room standing over two dead bodies. Both of the men had a close connection to Mrs. Threadles.

It's not at all looking good for the Inspector, but when Mrs. Threadles asks Sherlock Holmes for help in clearing her husband's name, Charlotte doesn't really feel she can refuse. She warns the other woman that these investigations may unearth unpleasant truths best left uncovered but nevertheless promises that Sherlock Holmes will do his best to find out what actually happened and why Inspector Threadles was found where he was. 

While Charlotte's sister doesn't feature as much in this book as some of the others, the usual cast of supporting characters appear and help Charlotte collect clues and question people. As well as Lord Ingram, there is Mrs. Watson and her "niece", and the reader learns a lot more about Mrs. Threadles and her husband over the course of the story. 

As Sherry Thomas started her career writing some excellent historical romance novels, she also writes excellent pining and sexual tension, which Charlotte and Lord Ingram have in spades. Since their last adventure, Lord Ingram has done some soul-searching and come to a conclusion which I think can lead to very interesting situations in future books. 

To begin with, this book seemed to be more of a "murder of the week" type story than a book that furthered the ongoing underlying arc of the series, and I was, therefore, a bit let down by the conclusion, where it turns out that even this was in some way connected to the "big bad", and nothing that ever happens in the life of Charlotte Holmes and those around her is ever separate from that. It would have made for a more interesting story if that were not the case. 

Judging a book by its cover: I think all of the covers in this series are lovely, with really atmospheric cover images and always a woman, facing away from the reader, clad in gorgeous, period-appropriate outfits front and centre. I really like the various cool colours and shades of blue in this one. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read


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