Stevie Carroll's Reviews > The Art of Theft

The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas
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it was amazing
bookshelves: reviewed-elsewhere

Previously reviewed on The Good, The Bad, and The Unread:

This series has been really getting into its stride with the previous novel, and now this book, showcasing Charlotte Holmes and her friends very much in their own world, with only a few subtle nods to their origins as pastiches of the Sherlock Holmes novels. Sherlock himself gets nary a mention this time around, as Charlotte’s latest client discounts the possibility of hiring a bedridden and mostly non-communicative detective. The job on offer requires an able-bodied operative, who is capable of breaking into a highly guarded French château and stealing one of the larger paintings about to be auctioned off at a prestigious gathering of the great and good. Fortunately, Charlotte and her friends are able to persuade the reluctant lady to take them on their own merits, helped to a great extent by Mrs Watson’s past connections to their new client.

Mrs Watson, too, really comes into her own in this story. Early on, we learn of her holiday in Paris with her ‘niece,’ in which she has entertained admirers both male and female. Then, on her return to London, we discover that she was once the lover of a visiting Indian maharani – ruling her state as regent to her young son at that time – and this dignitary, now retired from office, is the one requiring Charlotte’s help in retrieving letters over whose content she is being blackmailed.

The blackmailers have issued an unusual demand. Rather than a specified sum of money, they require the theft of a particular painting by Van Dyke, which is soon to be auctioned at an invitation-only event in France. Charlotte and Mrs Watson recruit a selection of their friends and relatives to help with the case, and soon learn that they are not the only would-be thieves intending to attend the auction. Nor is their client the only notable person being blackmailed by the same gang.

Of course Moriarty and his associates – past and present – turn out to be at the bottom of any number of interconnected plots uncovered by Charlotte and her companions in the course of the case. The group’s path also crosses several times with that of Lady Ingram, the estranged wife of Charlotte’s friend, and one-time lover, the dashing adventurer Lord Ingram. That man’s domestic complications also feature heavily in the story as he receives a prospective proposal of marriage (anticipating his divorce being granted) from an unlikely source, and has to decide on the best course of action at each stage of the plot with regard to his children as well as his friends and co-conspirators.

And just as all the loose ends appear to be wrapped up, Charlotte and her friends receive two separate pieces of distressing news, leading to a rash action by one of them, as well as to a new case for Charlotte, no doubt to be revealed in more detail in the next book. I can’t wait.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 17, 2019 – Finished Reading
October 21, 2019 – Shelved
October 21, 2019 – Shelved as: reviewed-elsewhere

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