The Art of Theft: Lady Sherlock #4. Sherry Thomas. Penguin Publishing Group. Copyright 2019. Pb. 304 pp.; ISBN: 9780451492470
Lady Charlotte, a/k/a Lady Sherlock, has a new mystery to solve which involves adventure and romance. A Maharani from India visits Lady Charlotte and at first decides she will not allow Lady Charlotte to help her because the Indian royalty does not believe Sherlock exists. Over a brief time, however, after the visits of Lord Ingram (who yearns for Charlotte as a lover) and Mr. Marbleton, who wants to court Livia, Livia’s sister, the plot is revealed. It turns out the Maharani has a weak son who rules but has made a serious mistake that if revealed could make them lose the support of the ruling British.
The questions are many. What written secrets are hidden in the back of a painting about to be auctioned and perhaps sold at a ball being held in Paris, France. The Maharani’s son had contacts with Prussia in which the latter promised to militarily help against the British. But what’s on the papers is in code. Her son is now in ill health due to this international communication gone nowhere and these paper machinations may be very dangerous if recovered by the wrong people.
Nevertheless, Lady Charlotte, with the help of Lord Ingram, Mr. Marbleton, and Livia set out to recover the papers. This involves learning more about the price of art, those who attend the ball and will auction after much eating and drinking. Does such partying increase the value and worth of famous and valuable paintings?
Of course, danger lurks in their pursuit. Lord Ingram and Mr. Marbleton are almost drowned in the grounds of the site of the castle where the ball will be held. Meanwhile, romantic ideas increase as the characters discover what their intended lovers are really like in peaceful and chaotic times. It all proceeds even to the very cliff-hanger style ending which leaves the reader anxious to read more of this group’s daring adventures and hope that these romantic plans will become serious. For those who love a good mystery with lots of riddles and threats, this is your next read. Although this is the fourth novel in a series, it’s also an enticing stand-alone novel. Nicely crafted, indeed, Sherry Thomas! More please!