A Conspiracy in Belgravia, the sequel to A Study in Scarlet Women, takes the same characters we know and love – Charlotte, Lord Ingram, and Mrs. Watson, and develops them even further. Charlotte must face a difficult decision and at the end of the novel not only is a dangerous foe revealed, but their lives are changed irrevocably.
After Charlotte Holmes fell from society, and then rose again as ‘Sherlock Holmes’ she has been using her skills to help solve cases – big and small. However, this new case will be unlike any other, as Lady Ingram approaches the esteemed detective in order to find her missing first love. Seems simple enough – except that this mystery man turns out to be none other than Charlotte Holmes’ illegitimate half-brother. Not only is there drama within the Sherlock Holmes world, but Charlotte herself receives an unexpected proposal, a mysterious stranger, and an unidentified corpse.
Entranced by the character of Charlotte Holmes, I was so ready to dive back into her world and deductive skills. I was not disappointed. She remains, as ever, my favorite re-imagined Sherlock. Her love for food is unrivaled and these were some of my favorite quotes from the book. It also makes Charlotte seem more human like, as food is on her mind frequently. (I find some authors forget about food entirely! On another note, I greatly enjoyed learning more about ciphers from Charlotte in this book).
This book deals with a topic extensively: marriage and securing one’s future. I vastly appreciated this discussion because Charlotte, Livia, and Lady Ingram all represent different angles of this question: how does a lady secure her future? Lady Ingram has already, but the disappearance of her lover reminds us of the sacrifices one must make to be secure. What options do women have in this time period? Charlotte’s marriage proposal calls into question the exact same questions. What is she willing to sacrifice for her, and potentially her sister’s, future?
Retellings can be difficult, especially with such a famous character as Sherlock Holmes. I am constantly pleased with how Thomas explores the possibility of imagination. This continuous dance is taken on in this sequel by uncovering more aspects of the legendary tale. It is a fantastic game, while reading, to see where the pieces from the story will interact with the infamous Sherlock. How does Thomas defy our expectations? We too are detectives in this endeavor.
But while I was enchanted again by the characters of Charlotte, Livia, and Mrs.Watson, the multiple perspectives shifting did not allow me to concentrate fully on Charlotte. This technique resulted in a parting feeling of displeasure, because I felt that her story seemed incomplete. It was not, in terms of the details and events, but I did not feel as if I knew her well enough – unlike in the first book.
Additionally, this book required a bit more patience because there were so many threads of the plot coming together, which was admirably masterful, but tedious to piece together. However, once the strands started interweaving, the plot and action picked up because puzzle pieces kept clicking together. But in the beginning it felt a little here and there, scattered, and a tad confusing. With this in mind, I must stress that at the end the plot comes together with dazzling speed and brilliance. I am still reeling from it, almost as if I was quickly reeled in from fishing.
If you were a fan of the first, you must pick up the second, as Charlotte’s story and her family develop significantly in this novel. A new foe is revealed and another plot twist at the end. You leave the book in a different world than you began and there are so many possibilities for Charlotte Holmes. I am eagerly awaiting the next because Charlotte remains one of my favorite Sherlock retellings.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from First to Read.
What’s your fave Sherlock Holmes retelling? I also love Elementary
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Don’t forget to read my review of the first one, A Study in Scarlet Women.