Y’all know I love a Sherlock Holmes retelling and Sherry Thomas’s Lady Sherlock series in one of my absolute favorites. So, when I saw the newest book in the series on Edelweiss, I immediately slammed down on the request button. Charlotte Holmes, her sister, Livia, Mrs. Watson, and Lord Ingram are such an intriguing group and they didn’t disappoint in The Art of Theft. Let’s get to the review!
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
As “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” Charlotte Holmes has solved murders and found missing individuals. But she has never stolen a priceless artwork—or rather, made away with the secrets hidden behind a much-coveted canvas.
But Mrs. Watson is desperate to help her old friend recover those secrets and Charlotte finds herself involved in a fever-paced scheme to infiltrate a glamorous Yuletide ball where the painting is one handshake away from being sold and the secrets a bare breath from exposure.
Her dear friend Lord Ingram, her sister Livia, Livia’s admirer Stephen Marbleton—everyone pitches in to help and everyone has a grand time. But nothing about this adventure is what it seems and disaster is biding time on the grounds of a glittering French chateau, waiting only for Charlotte to make a single mistake…
The story begins with Livia being where she’s been for most of her life: stuck in her parent’s home and trying to figure out a way to get out, even if it’s just fora little while. Luckily, with Charlotte living on her own, it’s easier than it used to be. So the sisters, along with the help of Livia’s love interest, Stephen Marbleton, devise a scheme to get her away from her bickering parents and to Charlotte and Mrs. Watson’s place.
But that’s just the beginning. What was supposed to be a vacation for Livia soon turns into a mission to retrieve damning letters for a friend of Mrs. Watson.
Before Livia gets there, Sherlock Holmes aka Charlotte gets a visitor from none other than the Maharani of Ajmer looking for the detective’s help. But when she realizes Sherlock is not what he seems, she leaves without stating her problem.
She doesn’t stay gone for long though. She soon visits Mrs. Watson and the truth about Sherlock Holmes comes out. But the truth about the Maharani’s relationship with Mrs. Watson comes to light as well. They use to be lovers!! (I love it!)
Without anyone else to turn to and realizing Charlotte is connected to her friend, the Maharani tells them her problem. Her son sent out some letters talking about overthrowing the British government in India. Unfortunately, those letters got into the hands of the wrong people. The Maharani wants them back and to do that, she’s been instructed to steal a painting from a secret auction in a chateau in France.
And that is how this adventure begins. With the help of Stephen Marbleton, and Charlotte’s friend/former? lover, Lord Ingram, the Holmes sister, Mrs. Watson, and the Maharani get into the chateau to find and retrieve the letters.
I don’t want to go into how they get into the chateau and how it all goes down because that’s the fun of the book and also, it’s kind of too complicated to easily summarize here.
But I will say that the group makes their way to France and first, stakes out the chateau in order to find different ways. This results with Lord Ingram and Mr. Marbleton almost freezing to death.
They then must get invitations to the auction and then disguise themselves effectively enough so no one knows they’re there.
They also have to figure out a way to sneak around the chateau without being caught and then find the letters and get out without being detected. As always, the plan is intricate and genius, but that doesn’t mean everything goes as planned.
While the adventure is exciting, the best part of these books are the relationships. The way the group plans everything together, how they play off one another, and their banter is what makes them so unique.
And of course in any Charlotte Holmes book, what’s left unsaid is just as important as what’s spoken aloud.
Charlotte and Lord Ingram are such a sloooooow burn. OMG if you read The Hollow of Fear (the book before this), you might think that what they are is settled, but think again. They may have been intimate, but that doesn’t mean they’re willing/able to be together. There is a lot of wanting and yearning, but these two giving into their deeper feelings still seems out of reach.
And then there is Livia and Mr. Marbleton. To say Mr. Marbleton’s life is complicated would be an understatement. His entire family is on the run from Moriarty (who may or may not be involved with these letters) and Livia being apart of that life would mean she’d always be in danger. And that is something Charlotte and Mr. Marbleton don’t want for her.
And with her anxiety, Livia isn’t sure she could handle it herself. They are the perfect example of love possibly not being enough for two people to be together.
The Art of Theft is complex, thrilling, smart, and fun. There were some points where I was a little confused about what was going on or had to remember something from a past book, but overall, the story was easy to follow. That being said, this is not a book you can read if you haven’t read the others in the series. You’ll get the main gist, but it’s a much more enjoyable experience if you’ve read the previous books.
Charlotte Holmes is as always, as fun to read. Her love of sweets and extravagant clothes is one of my favorite things about her and while she feels she must abstain from the sweets in this book, her clothes are as frilly as ever.
And Livia is just as lovely as always. I love how she gets to be involved in this adventure. She doesn’t get to have a lot of fun while living with her parents and she so deserves a little thrill.
And I could not end this review without talking about Bernadine Holmes. She’s not in the book a whole lot, but she is safe and in a place where she is content, and that is all I could ask for her.
I am giving The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas 4 out of 5 stars. If you love this series, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with this next adventure.
The Art of Theft comes out October 15, 2019.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley Books for the free eARC in exchange for my honest review