Donna's Reviews > Tears of Pearl

Tears of Pearl by Tasha Alexander
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Oct 01, 2009

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bookshelves: historical, library, mystery-and-crime
Read in October, 2009

When the long-lost daughter of a new acquaintance is found dead, Lady Emily and Colin Hargreaves turn their Constantinople honeymoon into a working vacation. The case requires Emily to investigate the sultan's harem, a world full of politics, jealousies, and dangerous secrets.

I think this book was an improvement. I knew who the killer was early on, but it was more because of that person's behavior and role in the story than from any overly-obvious clues left by the author. One of the red herring plots seemed to muddy things up unnecessarily, and there were a few "wait, how did Person X find out about Thing Y" moments. But still, I enjoyed the mystery aspects of the plot more than those in the previous books.

In a few ways, Emily and Colin's interactions as newlyweds remind me of my favorite fictional couple, Amelia and Emerson (from the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters). I found this surprising, because the tone of their relationship up until now had seemed very different. The biggest difference between Colin and Emerson is that Colin is just too reasonable. He obviously worries for his wife, but the "I love you too much to try and keep you from doing dangerous things" stuff just seems strange to me. It wouldn't be disrespectful of her abilities if Colin were a bit more protective of her safety, because Emily's talents are more mental than physical.

I really enjoyed the atmosphere and setting, and I was happy to see a little less of the historical name-dropping that I found so distracting in some of the previous books. I do think that there were some missed opportunities when it came to Emily's interactions with the harem women. Some of these women claimed to have more power and opportunity than their western counterparts, but during the course of the story we're only shown this power exercised in fairly insignificant ways. So I was left wondering if they really did wield much influence, or if their statements were another example of the lies and self-deception that were so common through the book.

The ending may disappoint some readers. Partly because it was extremely abrupt, and partly because one development came across as more convenient than tragic.
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