Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dangerous to Know by Tasha Alexander

"Returning from her honeymoon with Colin Hargreaves and a near brush with death in Constantinople, Lady Emily convalesces at her mother-in-law's beautiful estate in Normandy. But the calm she so desperately seeks is shattered when, out horseback riding, she comes upon the body of a young woman who has been brutally murdered. The girl's wounds are identical to those inflicted on the victims of Jack the Ripper, who has wreaked havoc across the channel in London. Emily feels a connection to the young woman and is determined to bring the killer to justice.

Pursuing a trail of clues and victims to the beautiful medieval city of Rouen and a crumbling chateau in the country, Emily begins to worry about her own sanity: she hears the cries of a little girl she cannot find and discovers blue ribbons left in the child's wake. As Emily is forced to match wits with a brilliant and manipulative killer, only her courage, keen instincts, and formidable will to win can help her escape becoming his next victim."

(from the publisher)

my thoughts:

This was an interesting installment in the Lady Emily series (book #5), as for the first time we get an intimate look inside the mind of the lead character as she struggles physically, mentally, and emotionally after the recent upheavals in her life.

After coming close to losing her life and suffering a real tragedy while honeymooning in the Ottoman empire, the couple decide to spend some quiet time at the Normandy home of Madame Hargreaves to allow Lady Emily time to heal her physical and emotional wounds. From the very beginning, it is a struggle for her -- her mother-in-law is cold and unsupportive, she suffers another shock when she discovers a brutally murdered young woman in the woods while out riding, and her husband, while still loving and attentive, is becoming overprotective and attempting to restrict her freedom. Convinced she is strong enough to assist Colin and the local authorities in the murder investigation, Lady Emily begins to search for clues to the identity and background of the murder victim. But for every step she takes in the investigation, she is stalked as if my a phantom.....cryptic notes left in her bedroom in the middle of the night, mysterious blue ribbons left in her path, and the sounds of a crying child haunt her dreams. Lady Emily begins to question her own sanity and her husband is maddeningly condescending -- "Darling, you're not fully recovered yet.....you're still so fragile.....you need your rest....you will obey me..."

We meet a colorful cast of characters in the French countryside, from the Markham and Prier families, each with their own skeletons in the closet and history of madness, the Impressionist painter, Monet, to some of our old friends from previous adventures, namely Cecile du Lac and Sebastian Capet, the endearingly charming "cat burglar." Tasha Alexander does a wonderful job of bringing the beauty and charm of the French countryside alive, and how all the pieces of the puzzle snap together makes Dangerous to Know another well-crafted, elegantly styled mystery.

3.5/5 stars

Title: Dangerous to Know
Author: Tasha Alexander
Minotaur Books
306 pages
genre: Victorian mystery

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