Book Review: A Conspiracy in Belgravia (4/5)

“There is nothing like the pleasure of a good book that pulls you in by the lapels and doesn’t let go until The End. God gives us only one life. But with good books, we can live a hundred, even a thousand lives in the time we are allotted on this earth.”

Fall is the perfect time for cozy mysteries. And who is not the king of mysteries but Sherlock Holmes? This Labor Day weekend I wrapped up A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas.

Second in a series the book follows Charlotte Holmes, AKA London’s most famous private inspector. Gifted with the talent of observation and deduction, in a sexist society Charlotte is forced to offer her services underground by meeting clients and going into the field for her “bedridden” brother. In her work she is assisted by her assistant Mrs. Watson and Penelope, Watson’s niece.

It is not until Lady Ingram shows up in the detective’s parlor, seeking help to find her lost love that Charlotte finds herself between a rock and a hard place. Lady Ingram is clearly a woman in distress, but she is also estranged wife to Lord Ingram, Charlotte’s benefactor and friend. Then the bodies start to appear.

Part mystery, part historical fiction, A Conspiracy in Belgravia was a departure from the usual Holmes literature. Notable was the theme of gender inequality in the period, and the massive divide that often separated the sexes. Strong female characters made up the backbone of the story, women who were unafraid to fly in the face of conventionality. Also included were women of all sizes. Charlotte was a woman who unashamedly enjoyed food and drink,  a refreshing concept to come across in my reading when we are so often barraged with the ideal of thin athletic women in the media.

The writing was lyrical and rhythmic, the sentences flowed with a variety that keeps the plot line flowing. I made a game out of guessing at the details of the case, pulling at the loose threads the author leaves in the fabric of the story, but true to the spirit of a Sherlock mystery I was not able to puzzle out the ending until the last pages. There are some cliffhangers to the novel, and some details that might have made more sense had I read the first book in the series, but for most part the book can be enjoyed as a standalone.

The characters are well developed, and while reading the story I couldn’t help but become invested in some of the relationships. I look forward to reading future books in the series, and the story line holds a lot of promise in the terms of growth. Overall I gave the book 4/5 stars, and I believe it is a book that a reader can relate to at any age. Charlotte is unapologetic of her unique personality and intellect, an inspiration to anyone who has found themselves marching to the beat of a different drum (namely all of humanity).

Any cozy fall reads you are enjoying? Now that Labor Day has come and passed I am starting to really get into the swing of the season! Nothing says Autumn more than a warm cup of tea and a book in hand. 

*Thank you to First to Read and the author for providing me with a free copy in exchange for a honest review. All opinions stated here are my own.

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