Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Murder on Cold Street (Lady Sherlock #5), by Sherry Thomas

Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 9780451492494, October 2020

Charlotte Holmes continues to pursue her profession of consulting detective, posing as assistant to her invalid, and entirely fictional, brother Sherlock.

She and several firends and allies have just returned from a trip to Europe and an act of grand theft to retrieve some priceless art which is exposing a friend of Mrs. Watson's to blackmail. They haven't been home long when Mrs. Treadles, wife of Inspector Treadles, a frequent collaborator of Charlotte's, arrives with a desperate plea for help.

Inspector Treadles has been found in a locked room with two dead men, holding the gun used to kill them. The two dead men, Mr. Longstead and Mr. Sullivan, worked with Mrs. Treadles at Cousins Manufacturing, a respected firm that Mrs. Cousins recently inherited from her brother, Barnaby Cousins. Barnaby was a lax manager, but Alice Treadles is determined to be active and responsible, and in different ways, these were the two men she worked most closely with. Was Inspector Treadles suspicious? Jealous?
With the Inspector refusing to talk even though he's the only obvious suspect, and Alice Treadles clearly withholding information, this is going to be a very tricky case.

Soon Charlotte, her dear friend Lord Ingram, Mrs. Watson, and her niece, Penelope Redmayne, are coaxing out detail, deciphering messages in small notices in the newspapers, questioning the guests at the party Mrs. Treadles, Mr. Longstead, and Mr. Sullivan had all been at the night of the murders. There's also the vital question of where Inspector Treadles really was in the two weeks before the deaths, because it's not where he told Mrs. Treadles he was.

Charlotte is also finding unlikely connections between Mr. Sullivan, Mrs. Sullivan, and Mr. Sulivan's mistress.

Even more interesting is, why don't any of the management of Cousins Manufacturing want Mrs. Treadles inquiring into the details of the company's books or recent renovations of the factories.

Meanwhile, Charlotte and Lord Ingram may, at last, be moving forward in their relationship, as Lord Ingram is freed from the obligations that have held him back.

This is a good mystery, but it's also quite satisfyingly honest about the constraints on women, even educated, well-off women, in a society that still clings closely to its gender-determined roles. Charlotte, for reasons recounted in previous books, is now shut out from respectable society. Mrs. Treadles is, not as shockingly as Charlotte, defying convention in excercising her right to run the business she inherited. The troubles between Inspector and Mrs. Treadles are a result of his dicomfort with her defiance of those conventional roles.

I found it interesting and satisfying.


I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

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