Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Release Date: October 15, 2019
Genre: Mystery / Historical
Charlotte Holmes, Lady Sherlock, is back solving new cases in the Victorian-set mystery series from the USA Today bestselling author of The Hollow of Fear.
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…
Story Locale: Victorian England
The Art of Theft, by author Sherry Thomas, is the fourth installment in the author's Lady Sherlock series. This series revolves around Lady Charlotte Holmes who, along with Mrs Watson, have created a fictional crime fighting brother called Sherlock Holmes. There are only a handful of people who know the real truth. Charlotte and Mrs Watson are a brilliant team. One has life's lessons to import on Charlotte, while Charlotte has a brilliant and cunning mind which is often at odds with how many sweets she can eat before gaining another unwanted chin.
Olivia Holmes has become a staple in this series as well. Olivia is the third oldest daughter and the one who isn't all that confidant about being around other women, or men for that matter. While Charlotte intentionally ruined her reputation in Victorian England, Olivia is still stuck under the thumb of her father. Liv has also been penning a manuscript featuring Sherlock Holmes while also being somewhat courted by the secretive Stephen Marbleton who has his own story to tell.
In this episode, while Charlotte is resettling her older sister Bernadette into a new living arrangement away from her parents, Olivia is meeting Stephen's parents, Mrs Watson is returning home from visiting her daughter, and Lord Ingram has filed for divorce from his wife putting much of his focus on ensuring his children are well taken care of and not Charlotte. Soon thereafter, Charlotte is visited by the Maharani of Ajmer who needs Sherlock's help in retrieving important from a wealthy collector in Paris.
The client is being blackmailed by someone who is holding letters that could cause her and her small kingdom a lot of trouble and embarrassment. The letters are hidden behind a Van Dyck painting in the French chateau, Vaudrieu. It seems that the Maharani needs a cat burglar rather than a mystery solver. Part of the story surrounds Mrs. Watson and a romantic affair she had with the Maharani of Ajmer years before she was someone. The maharani has come to London hoping to hire Sherlock Holmes to steal some incriminating letters back from the blackmailer who holds them.
Mrs. Watson convinces Charlotte to take the case and Charlotte recruits her friend Lord Ingram to help. Her sister Olivia and her sweetheart Mr. Marbleton are also recruited marking the first time that Liv has joined Charlotte and Mrs Watson in an investigation. Lieutenant Leighton Atwood, Lord Ingram’s cousin and a fellow operative for the crown, add his expertise as well. I will say that this is the first book where so many characters have joined to together in solving a situation where life and death is on the line, and a budding romance between Liv and Stephan may be tested severely.
Meanwhile, what may have been a romantic future for Ash and Charlotte, has been put on the back burner until Ash takes care of his personal issues. However, this is the point in the series where I ask, where the heck is Moriarty? Moriarty is the dark cloud hanging over every thing just off stage waiting to make his grand entrance. Could the fifth installment be the time for him and Charlotte to go head to head? Also, how far does one have to go to actually trust Lady Ingram after all she's done?
There is a sort of cliffhanger ending to this book which I believe is the first of its kind in this series. As I said, perhaps it is time for the mysterious Moriarty to finally challenge Charlotte in ways that she hasn't been so far. Also, yet another character who knows Sherlock isn't real, may play a pivotal role in what happens next. Sorry, no spoilers but if you have read this series, and this book, it's easy to guess who I am talking about.