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The Sirens of Suspense

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In Tasha Alexander’s last installment of her Lady Emily Hargreaves series, Tears of Pearl, Lady Emily was left scarred both emotionally and physically after confronting a murderer on her honeymoon in Constantinople. Now, in Dangerous to Know, we find her recuperating at the estate of Colin’s mother in Normandy, where her low spirits endear her little to her new mother-in-law, whose frigid welcome does not improve matters.  Nor does stumbling upon the mutilated body of a young girl during a ride through the woods. The murder seems to have all the hallmarks of Jack the Ripper, who was rumored to flee London for France. However, unlike prior victims, this girl is the daughter of an aristocratic family who had escaped from a nearby asylum. Never one to leave well enough alone, Lady Emily begins to investigate along with her husband Colin, an agent for the empire. However, Colin’s sense of responsibility for his wife’s injuries leads him to become more protective. Lady Emily is none to happy with the evolving definition of their partnership, and struggles to come to terms with not only her emotions, but those of her husband.

Lady Emily’s already precarious state is further exacerbated by the haunting cries of a ghostly child, whose demise was rumored to be at the hands of a neighbor’s wife. Add to this is the return of gentleman thief Sebastian Capet, whose theft of a Monet may be tied to the murdered girl and the ghastly apparition, and it’s a recipe for madness. The pace of the narrative mirrors Emily’s mindset. At the beginning, much of the narrative is devoted to the growing complexities of Lady Emily and Colin’s relationship — although  much needed periods of levity provided by Emily’s friend CÚcile.  As the investigation progresses, Alexander proceeds to give us the adventure we come to expect in her work; taking us on an all-inclusive tour of the medieval city of Rouen, drinking champagne with Monet, and exploring crumbling chȃteaux. Definitely for seasoned Alexander fans (others should begin with And Only to Deceive), Dangerous to Know is more of a psychological mystery than Alexander’s previous work, but a superb addition to the Lady Emily series.

Tasha Alexander recently married fellow author Andrew Grant (The Event, which won Crimespree Magazine’s award for favorite first novel) in a match made in mystery-reader heaven. They divide their time between Chicago and the UK. She’s currently working on the fifth in the Lady Emily series, and Kaye Publicity (www.kayepublicity.com) is holding a contest to help her title it  (http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=140841180399&topic=14895) 

 

If you like Tasha Alexander’s books, then I highly recommend Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series (The Mischief of the Misteltoe, October 2010) and Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey series (Dark Road to Darjeeling, October, 2010).

This review originally posted on The Poisoned Pen blog, read it and comment here:

http://poisonedpen.com/2010/2439//

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