I’ve been madly reading the Lady Emily Mystery series from Tasha Alexander over the last few weeks. According to my Goodreads shelf, I finished the first in the series in mid-August. So, I was very excited when I won an ARC from Goodreads of the ninth Lady Emily mystery that comes out in just a few days, “The Counterfeit Heiress.”
Not too long ago I wrote a post about the fourth book and how I loved Alexander’s ability to allow her characters to mature and change, but still maintaining the core personality I’d come to love. I’ve had to remember that I’ve read seven years of Emily’s life in only two months and a person can change considerably over seven years. There were moments in the last two books, “Death in the Floating City” and “Behind the Shattered Glass,” when I had moments of wondering about where Lady Emily and Colin were headed. There was also a lot of coincidence, but that is another issue altogether.
With “The Counterfeit Heiress,” Alexander found a great stride for her characters. There seems to be balance in Lady Emily’s life. She and Colin have settled into a great arrangement and division of duties. He respects her opinion and only asks that she take no unnecessary risks. She, in return, trusts Colin to bring her into a case and advocate for her involvement when Scotland Yard or local police balk at a female investigating murder. They are both now also focused on being parents to three young boys.
The other layer to any Lady Emily story is the case the Hargreaves investigate. Now, I mentioned earlier there were moments in the last two books where coincidence sometimes gnawed at my ability to stay inside the mystery. With “The Counterfeit Heiress,” there is little of that. The case was engrossing! Here’s a short summary.
Lady Emily and Colin are in London for the Season. Lady Devonshire, the premier hostess, is giving a fancy dress ball in honor of the great Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. Fancy dress ball is code for costume party. Word at the ball is the reclusive heiress Estella Lamar is in attendance and Cécile (I was so glad that Cécile was back) wants to see her old friend. A friend that no one has seen for more than 15 years due to her exotic world travels. Yet, when Lady Emily and Cécile find the reclusive women she is not who she says she is. When the imposter shows up dead not far from the ball’s location, Lady Emily and Colin are called on to solve the murder. What follows is a mystery that goes further and is much creepier than a murder. Where is the real Estella Lamar? Why was a woman asked to impersonate her?
Fans of Lady Emily and Colin’s relationship won’t be disappointed as I stated earlier. And, did I mention that Cécile is back? I adore her. Along with these three, we also get to see Jeremy, Duke of Bainbridge, pursuing his title of the most useless man in England, although, he made himself most useful during this investigation.
Alexander also always offers an array of interesting characters for her case. As is the pattern with her other books, Alexander injects short chapters from the perspective of a character key to the case being solved. In this case, we get to see aspects of the case from Estella’s perspective. It is a dive into the personality of a person so socially awkward it was heartbreaking at moments. It was a slow descent into madness. Don’t get me started on the dolls. Shivers! Don’t forget to read the author’s note. It only increased the creepiness factor.
Alexander delivers a wonderful addition to the Lady Emily mystery series. She also dangles a tidbit of information in the last page that will have every fan of Jeremy gasping in surprise. Who is Christabelle Peabody? I know I’ll be reading the next book to solve that mystery!