Friday, March 29, 2019
The Detective, the Woman, and the Silent Hive
By Book Three, Irene is living in a peaceful village in Sussex, pursuing singing engagements, but finding peace and relaxation in cultivating beehives. Her peace is shattered when, unaccountably, hive by hive, the bees contract the bacterial disease, “foulbrood”. Since there are no other cases around, it seems to have been purposely introduced by infected bees. Irene goes to London to seek the advice of her friend and sleuth-mate, Sherlock Holmes.
As it turns out, a nefarious plot is actually aimed at Sherlock Holmes and can be traced back to an earlier case he thought was solved. More than that, I won’t say, because the pleasure is in finding out the who, what, when, where and why. But the author tells the story with a deft hand.
Like the earlier books, the story unfolds through alternating viewpoints -- the clinical Holmes' in third person distant, and the expressive singer's in first person close. It’s a device that works very well, allowing, among other things, the two main characters to reflect and comment on each other and to develop them believably. Other characters are also nicely developed, from Billy, the porter, Wiggins, the leader of the “irregulars”, loyal Mrs. Hudson, grumpy Lestrade, and the ever-gallant Dr. Watson (who also has eyes for Irene’s housekeeper in Sussex).
The author captures beautifully details of Victorian London, from elegant homes to shabby neighborhoods, the wealthy and the poor. Scenes and interiors (including a night in jail) were vivid.
This is a well-paced novel with satisfying twists and turns that kept me engrossed to the end. There is also a Book Four, out: The Detective, the Woman, and the Pirate's Bounty. Can't wait!
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