June 25, 2024

A Ruse of Shadows

By Sherry Thomas
Review by
A Ruse of Shadows is an unmissable high point of Sherry Thomas’ Lady Sherlock, a joyfully original historical mystery series with a romantic twist.
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Have you ever wondered about the aftermath of a great detective’s big case or how the damage reverberates among the grieving families of murder mysteries? In Sherry Thomas’s irresistible eighth Lady Sherlock mystery, A Ruse of Shadows, Charlotte Holmes solves several interlocking puzzles, bringing justice to characters who were collateral damage in previous installments in the series.

In the beginning, things look bleak for the inimitable Miss Holmes, the real genius behind the celebrated consulting detective Sherlock Holmes. Charlotte is a person of interest in the murder of Lord Bancroft Ashburton and, as one of the last people to see the victim alive, she faces questioning by two of Scotland Yard’s finest: upright Inspector Treadles and retired Chief Inspector Talbot. It’s a sticky wicket for both Treadles and Charlotte: She is the adored partner of the victim’s brother, Lord Ingram Ashburton (“Ash”), who happens to be Treadles’ friend as well. Charlotte also recently cleared Treadles from a false murder indictment.

As a result of Charlotte’s investigative efforts, the formerly powerful Bancroft had been exiled to Ravensmere, “a cushioned facility for sensitive prisoners,” for selling the Crown’s secrets. And yet, just weeks prior to his death, Bancroft summoned Charlotte and coerced her into tracking down his missing henchman, Mr. Underwood. Multiple murders and twists ensue as friends, foes and loved ones of earlier victims return and plot strands get brilliantly tied together in a case that serves as a culmination of everything that’s occurred in the series so far. 

The twists are creative and compelling; it’s always rewarding to watch Charlotte’s mind work and see how she wrests control from men who would use her. But her emotional journey alongside Ash is the real centerpiece of the novel. Now divorced, Ash is finding his way in his newly unconventional life. While cushioned by his gender, wealth and privilege, he has still become a social anomaly: “the Upper Ten Thousand was not accustomed to recently divorced men at their social functions and his presence had caused some tongues to wag.” He’s taking cues from his unorthodox better half, who is unlikely to ever want to marry, but Ash still worries about his children’s reputations. Yet, this is the happiest readers have ever seen the couple. Their relationship blooms in intimate moments, culminating in the series’ most satisfying scenes ever. With Ash and Charlotte’s flame burning higher and hotter, A Ruse of Shadows is an unmissable high point in a joyfully original historical mystery series with a romantic twist.

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A Ruse of Shadows

A Ruse of Shadows

By Sherry Thomas
ISBN 9780593640432

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