A Ruse of Shadows

Berkley. (Lady Sherlock Series, Bk. 8). Jun. 2024. 352p. ISBN 9780593640432. pap. $18. M
Thomas’s eighth “Lady Sherlock” mystery (following A Tempest at Sea) has heroine Charlotte Holmes looking like the prime suspect in the murder of Lord Bancroft. But the story goes back further, to the disappearance of one of Bancroft’s underlings, aptly named Underwood. By threatening Charlotte’s sister, Bancroft pressures Charlotte into looking for Underwood. She enlists her usual crew (Mrs. Watson, Lord Ingram, et al.) to investigate Underwood’s vanishing. Multiple disguises, a couple of daring rescues, a secret tunnel to a bank vault, plus a touch of romance make for an exciting adventure. Still in the picture is Professor Moriarity, a clear and present danger to the Holmes family and their loved ones. Thomas carefully structures her novel with multiple flashbacks, but there is too much recapping of events and telling (rather than showing) what happens. On the plus side, Thomas’s intricate story is populated with complex and engaging secondary characters both new and returning. They are the draw, more so than the plot.
VERDICT Understanding this historical mystery requires thorough knowledge of the rest of the series, so it’s best for devoted fans.
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