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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Review - Dangerous To Know

I specially requested this mystery from the publisher after reading the blurb on it.  It is billed as suspense as well as a mystery and I think that is fair.  See what you think. 

Author: Tasha Alexander

Copyright: October 2010 (Minotaur Books) 320 pgs

Series: 5th in Lady Emily Mysteries

Sensuality: Victorian mild

Mystery Sub-genre:
Historical Mystery

Main Character:  Lady Emily Hargreaves

Setting: 1892 Normandy France

Obtained Through:
Publisher for an honest review

This book apparently picks up shortly after the prior book.  The preceding book's climax had Emily wounded from her confrontation with the killer and she is in need of some physical and emotional healing time.  Her new husband, Colin, takes her to Normandy to stay at the country manor house of his mother - awkward.  Chapter one starts out immediately with Emily out riding a horse to get away from her mother-in-law and comes upon a brutally murdered girl.  The initial suspicion is that Jack the Ripper has moved from England to France because of the level of brutality (which is only sparsely described.) 

The victim, Edith Prier, came from an aristocratic family in nearby Rouens and was confined to an insane asylum.  Emily is still trying to deal with her emotional trauma and is thrown into this tale of a completely dysfunctional family and their disturbed daughter.  Mix in the reappearance of the flirtatious rouge thief - Sebastian who appears to have followed her to Normandy, the atmospheric settings employed, the ghost of a young girl who drops blue ribbons, the tension with Emily's new mother-in-law, and Colin deciding he must protect independent Emily by "forbidding" her to investigate and you have a full novel. 

I had my suspicions about the villain, but the motive is actually quiet a surprise and caught me off guard - bravo there.  Although the storyline might suggest this is a dark novel, it isn't.  There are some humorous parts with Emily interacting with Colin and Sebastian which still make me chuckle.  The revealing of the killer is actually scary - truly well done and I must give kudos for that climax.  Just thinking of it makes me shiver.

Lady Emily is tested emotionally in this book and her true metal is revealed.  This was no small task and could have fallen short in less capable hands, but Ms. Alexander shined in giving us an emotionally wounded heroine facing some her emotions.  I have not read any of the prior novels in this series but I have grown very fond of this character in short order.  Colin is portrayed well as a man caught between his enlightened beliefs about women's roles and his emotions to protect his new bride.  That was a touchy point, for up to this point Collen had co-investigated with Emily.  I know Ms. Alexander was portraying a confused man feeling his way through his dilemma between logical thought and instinct and also be true to the time period.  This is the one area of the book that could go either positive or negative depending upon the reader.  I tried to keep it in the context I just mentioned, and while not preferable, I understood it. 

The rascal Sebastian is a fresh breath along with Emily's good friend Cecile.  A nice touch was the guest appearance of French writer Maurice Leblanc who became know for the Arsene Lupin novels - the French answer to Arthur Conan Doyle's successful series.  Through the novel even Colin's mother is given just the right touch to make the reader want to see her again.  I enjoyed this novel and the climax will stay with me for a long time. 

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Mystica said...

I think I will like this one too.

A.F. Heart said...


so glad this review helped. Thanks for the comment.

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