Charlotte Holmes, Lady Sherlock, is back solving new cases in the Victorian-set mystery series from the USA Today bestselling author of The Hollow of Fear.
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...
In Thomas's fun fourth Lady Sherlock mystery (after 2018's The Hollow of Fear), Charlotte Holmes, who makes her living "as oracle to her fictional brother Sherlock," agrees to try to save the Maharani of Ajmer from a blackmailer who has hidden compromising letters in the back of a priceless Van Dyck painting destined to be sold at an annual art-sale-cum-masquerade-ball in France. With her partner, Mrs. Watson, and assorted other allies, Charlotte travels to France, where they conduct risky nighttime reconnaissance of the chateau in which the ball will be held and establish false identities that win them invitations. When they learn that the chateau is riddled with peepholes through which compromising pictures might be taken, they realize that the blackmail scheme targets many victims rather than one. Thomas grounds her fanciful premise in solid detective work and does a fine job of evoking the unfulfilled and seemingly hopeless romantic longings that afflict several of her sleuths. Fast-paced storytelling and witty prose add further appeal for those who like their historical mysteries playful.