Thursday, October 1, 2020

#Review - Murder on Cold Street by Sherry Thomas #Historical #Mystery

Series: The Lady Sherlock Series (#5)
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Publisher: Berkley Books
Source: Publisher
Genre: Romance / Historical / Mystery

Charlotte Holmes, Lady Sherlock, investigates a puzzling new murder case that implicates Scotland Yard inspector Robert Treadles in the USA Today bestselling series set in Victorian England.

Inspector Treadles, Charlotte Holmes’s friend and collaborator, has been found locked in a room with two dead men, both of whom worked with his wife at the great manufacturing enterprise she has recently inherited.

Rumors fly. Had Inspector Treadles killed the men because they had opposed his wife’s initiatives at every turn? Had he killed in a fit of jealous rage, because he suspected Mrs. Treadles of harboring deeper feelings for one of the men? To make matters worse, he refuses to speak on his own behalf, despite the overwhelming evidence against him.

Charlotte finds herself in a case strewn with lies and secrets. But which lies are to cover up small sins, and which secrets would flay open a past better left forgotten? Not to mention, how can she concentrate on these murders, when Lord Ingram, her oldest friend and sometime lover, at last dangles before her the one thing she has always wanted?

Murder on Cold Street is the Fifth installment in author Sherry Thomas' Lady Sherlock series. The story picks up immediately where the previous book (The Art of Theft) left off. Charlotte, Lord Ingram, Mrs. Watson, and Livia Holmes have returned from their latest escapades in France having saved Lord Ingram in the process. A buoyant Lord Ingram, who has finally resolved his feelings for Charlotte, finds that life once again hits two close to home when his friend, Inspector Robert Treadles (who he grew apart from because of Charlotte), has been arrested on suspicion of murder. 


Charlotte agrees to meet with Mrs Alice Treadles, who took over ownership of Cousin's Manufacturing from her brother, as a favor to the Scotland yard Inspector even though hedidn't care for the fact that Charlotte is the brains of the operation. But, in this case, something is amiss. Inspector Treadles is suspected of the murder of none other than two of his wife's business partners in a home on Cold Street. Alice Treadles is worth a small fortune and could hire any defense barrister she wants. But Charlotte has caused a stir among England's elite by solving twisted cases. 


Meanwhile, Inspector Brighton, who oversees the investigation, believes that Treadles is guilty, and it isn’t going to take much to convict him by Christmas Day. Charlotte, of course, takes on the case, but considering the locked room that Mr. Treadles is found in along with the two dead bodies, the mystery posed is quite a stumper. Charlotte adds Miss Penelope Redmayne to her team of investigators. As she wades through the various clues, more and more questions arise with regards to the Treadles themselves, as well as with Cousin's Manufacturing. 


This series has stepped deeply into making Moriarty the ghost in the shell as with the original Sherlock Holmes series. Although he has yet to make an actual appearance, he's made plenty of people's lives miserable, including Olivia Holmes who lost her one true love, Stephen Marbleton. Charlotte and gang have already learned a few tricks that Moriarty is playing, including leaving codes in the newspaper. Charlotte's relationship with Ash evolves in this book along with the twists and turns of what Inspector Treadles was doing in the home that he was found along with two dead men.


I'm thankful that Charlotte and Ash are resolving their hesitancy of growing closer now that Ash's marriage is working towards an ending. I am hoping that Olivia finds her own form of happiness away from her parents who are the absolute worst. I am eager to see what happens next, especially if Moriarty finally makes his long-awaited appearance.

Chapter 2

Mrs. Treadles gazed at her husband’s note for a while, after Lord Ingram returned it to her. “It’s true that he doesn’t proclaim his innocence in this note, but since he does seem to believe that it will get better . . .”

“Then we should take his professional opinion into account,” said Holmes.

Her client caressed the edge of the note. “After Sergeant MacDonald left, I went around to Scotland Yard. Since I knew that the arrest wasn’t yet common knowledge, I pretended to be, of all things, an admirer of Sherlock Holmes’s and asked if I could meet with Inspector Treadles to learn more about the great consulting detective. There I was told that he wasn’t expected at the Yard today.”

“So Scotland Yard doesn’t want it known that one of its own has been arrested?” murmured Lord Ingram.

“Scotland Yard had a major embarrassment recently, my lord, when they arrested you in triumph and had to later release you with full apologies,” said Holmes. “It’s understandable that they wish to keep the matter hushed for now—or for as long as they can keep it hushed. That does not, of course, help us. The first person I—the first person my brother would wish for me to speak to would be Inspector Treadles himself.”

“What will you do then?” asked Mrs. Treadles, her fingers now clutched tightly together in her lap, around a white handkerchief.

“We will try a different course of inquiry,” said Holmes calmly. “My lord, I can hear the newspaper boy’s progress on Upper Baker Street. Will you be so kind as to fetch a copy for us?”

He did and was back in the parlor in two minutes flat, still scanning the paper, an early-afternoon edition printed around noon, shortly after the daily meteorological forecasts had been received and typeset.

“No accounts of sensational murders or arrested Scotland Yard inspectors. I also don’t see any mention of Mr. Longstead, Cousins Manufacturing, or indeed anything to do with Inspector Treadles’s current difficulties.”

He looked up. “But one minute, Mrs. Treadles. What is Mr. Longstead’s address in town?”

“31 Cold Street.”

At the answer, something flickered across Holmes’s face. An almost unnoticeable change, and yet for her, this counted as genuine surprise.

His fingertips tingled. “The house next door got a mention. ‘A disturbance erupted at 33 Cold Street in the early hours of the morning. The police was called for. The house was apparently unoccupied and the nature of the disturbance has not yet been disclosed. It is not known whether the events of the night had anything to do with the nuisance of fireworks in the district previously reported in these pages.’”

“What was the nature of the gathering at Mr. Longstead’s house?” inquired Holmes.

Mrs. Treadles twisted her handkerchief between her fingers. “It was a dinner, followed by a dance. A coming-out soiree for Miss Longstead, his niece.”

The London Season ran from late spring to high summer; it had no definitive beginning but ended absolutely before the first day of grouse shooting. Granted, the season was for the Upper Ten Thousand, but Lord Ingram was under the impression that the merely wealthy emulated their “betters” and set their social calendar to similar dates. Besides, the weather in May, June, and July was simply more conducive to merrymaking.

A coming-out soiree, in town, in December—he wouldn’t go so far as to say it wasn’t done, but it wasn’t done often.

Mrs. Treadles echoed his thoughts. “A bit of a strange time to be having a debutante party. I would have organized a New Year’s ball, instead of a dance a few days before Christmas. Mr. Longstead was introducing his niece not to scions of the landed gentry, for whom leisure is a mark of gentlemanliness, but to families similar to his own, the fathers and sons of which were both needed at their businesses the next day to see to the closing of the year.”

“How long did the gathering last?” asked Holmes.

“That I don’t know. I felt a headache coming on after midnight and by one o’clock I was in my carriage, driving away. At the time I wouldn’t have been surprised if the dancing went on until dawn—Miss Longstead looked splendid and the guests were enthusiastic. But as I reached home, a fog was rolling in. So it’s possible—perhaps even likely—that the party dispersed not too long after my departure.”

“Were you aware of anything unusual going on either at Mr. Longstead’s gathering nor in the house next door?”

Mrs. Treadles dropped her eyes to her handkerchief and shook her head. “No.”

“And of course you never saw Inspector Treadles at any point that night?”


Lord Ingram glanced at Holmes. He did not have her observational powers. But he didn’t need observational powers of such magnitude to doubt Mrs. Treadles’s last two answers.

It was far more difficult to tell when Holmes lied, because nothing else about her changed as she shifted from truth to fiction, not tone, not posture, not eye movements or facial flickers. Part of it, he was sure, was because of her copious mental capacity, which easily accommodated the calculations and calibrations required for lying that strained the ordinary mind.

Another part, and he wondered how large this part might be, was attributable to the fact that she was impervious to the dictates of moral absolutes. Like most everyone else, she must have been told again and again that lying was bad. Unlike with most everyone else, it had left little impression on her and she viewed telling the truth as a situational, rather than an ethical, choice.

Mrs. Treadles, on the other hand, lacked both Holmes’s talent for fibbing and her moral fluidity, and was clearly uncomfortable with her most recent declarative answers.

“I’d mentioned that I thought my husband out of town, not expected for some more time,” she went on. “In hindsight, he must have returned to London at some point during the night, if not sooner. Perhaps he entered the house neighboring Mr. Longstead’s—I have no way of knowing. I can’t tell you anything about his movements—or the rationales for them.”

People who lie often say too much. With Mrs. Treadles’s additional explanation, Lord Ingram grew more convinced that she could tell them something important on both accounts, if she chose to.

Or was forced to.

Holmes took a sip of her tea and did not say anything.

Silence fell.

Over the years, Lord Ingram had experienced a great deal of silence in Holmes’s presence. In fact, he was certain that if a tally were made, their acquaintance would turn out to consist of more silence than speech.

This was, however, the first time he’d ever known her to wield silence as an interrogation technique, an intentionally unsubtle signal that she found the witness less than creditable.

Mrs. Treadles shifted in her chair. She picked up her hitherto untouched tea and drank. And drank. And drank.

“That the murder hasn’t been reported by the papers is a blessing, I’m sure,” said Lord Ingram, breaking the silence. “But at the moment we need more information.”

Mrs. Treadles’s teacup shook visibly. “Please let me know what else I can tell you.”

Holmes was still silent, but her silence was not pointed or reproachful. He’d left most of the questioning to her—it was her, investigation, after all—but she’d have known that he would not let Mrs. Treadles squirm in discomfort for too long. She’d issued a warning, that was all.

“Did Mr. Longstead go in to work every day?” she asked. “Would his absence have been already remarked upon?”

“No, he didn’t come into work every day,” said Mrs. Treadles, setting down her teacup. “I t was understood from the beginning that he would serve only in an advisory capacity. I would see him on a Thursday, then perhaps not until the Tuesday of the following week. He made sure to be present when I met with the managers as a group, for which I was immensely grateful, as they became less dismissive of me out of respect for him.”

She laughed a little, mirthlessly.

Lord Ingram felt a surge of self-reproach. Great upheavals had taken place in his life around the time Mrs. Treadles inherited Cousins Manufacturing. Still, he could have spared her more thoughts, perhaps even a letter or two, asking after how she fared in her new capacity as the owner of a complex going concern.

He’d been pleased for her, as he’d thought that the running of a large enterprise, while demanding, would suit her well, given her energy and intelligence. And that after an initial period of adjustment, she would wrap her hands firmly around the reins of the company.

But the undertone of bleakness in that not-quite-laugh—of outright despair, even—made it clear that the initial period of adjustment had been far rockier than he’d supposed, that she still did not have control of Cousins, and that she had just lost her greatest ally.

Possibly her only ally.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” he said.

Mrs. Treadles sighed shakily. “Just when you think things couldn’t possibly get worse, you immediately find that that yes, indeed, they can. Far, far worse.”

Silence fell again, until Holmes spoke. “You are here, Mrs. Treadles, in the hope that Sherlock Holmes can help make things better. Or at least, prevent the situation from further deteriorating. But in order to help, we must know much more than we do now.”

It became Mrs. Treadles’s turn to be silent.

Holmes regarded her for some time. “Very well, Mrs. Treadles,” she said, clearly deciding on a different approach. “Can you give me a summary of the inspector’s movements in the seventy-two before the party?”

“Seventy-two hours . . .” echoed Mrs. Treadles slowly. “The party was yesterday, Monday. Seventy-two hours earlier would have been the Friday before. He left for an investigation in the Kentish countryside that afternoon. And he was gone until . . . until his arrest, I suppose.”

Not very helpful, as far as summaries of movements went.

“Did anyone go with him?”

Mrs. Treadles hesitated. “I can’t be sure. I’d assumed Sergeant MacDonald would accompany him. But when I spoke to the sergeant this morning, he assured me he’d been in town all the while.”

Holmes pitched a brow, a deliberately exaggerated expression for her. “You didn’t ask, Mrs. Treadles?”

Mrs. Treadles smiled apologetically. Uncomfortably. “I was rather distracted at work, I’m afraid.”

Lord Ingram had to refrain from raising his own brow.

Not long ago he had envied the Treadleses for their affectionate and harmonious union, while he himself endured an embittered domestic situation. When he last saw them together, in summer, in the middle of Holmes’s first major case, they were still devoted to each other, a couple who glanced at each other out of care and consideration, and leaned together without even being aware of the gesture.

The cooling of friendship between Lord Ingram and Inspector Treadles coincided more or less with the beginning of a chaotic period in Lord Ingram’s life. He didn’t see Inspector Treadles again until Scotland Yard dispatched the police officer to Stern Hollow in the wake of a murder.

Such circumstances did not lend themselves to intimate conversations between the investigator and the investigated. Near the end of the case, when they were able to speak as friends again, he’d inquired after Mrs. Treadles’s doings, and received the distinct impression that Inspector Treadles spoke with pride at his wife’s accomplishments.

But Mrs. Treadles told them just now that her husband had not approved of her foray into the world of business and manufacturing. Not for months on end.

Words Holmes had once spoken came back to him, words concerning Inspector and Mrs. Treadles. I only hope his wife fares better, if she ever breaks any rules he deems important.

He had the sinking feeling that Mrs. Treadles had not fare any better against her husband’s judgment. But they had reconciled, had they not? And if they had, would she not have asked, even if only in passing, whether he was taking Sergeant MacDonald with him?

Mrs. Treadles fidgeted. Lord Ingram began to wonder if there were any avenues of inquiry that wouldn’t make her squirm.

Perhaps Holmes had the same thought, for she indeed opened another avenue of inquiry. “Do you know, Mrs. Treadles, who would benefit the most by Mr. Longstead’s death?”

Mrs. Treadles exhaled, as if relieved to be asked this particular question. “He never married and had no children of his own. His niece lived with him and they doted on each other. I understand that he is also survived by a sister and several nephews.

“As for who would be the greatest beneficiary of his will, I guess it would be his sister and his niece. I once heard him say that men should make their own way in the world, but that women, not being able to work for success in the same manner, should be given as many resources as possible, so that they do not depend on the mercy of men who do not have their best interest at heart.”

“Did his nephews know they were not to expect much from his will?”

“I would imagine so. Nothing more significant than small annuities.”

Nothing worth murdering for.

Although, if a discontented nephew knew that the bulk of this uncle’s fortune would go to two women, who was to say that he wouldn’t kill Mr. Longstead in the hope that he could persuade the women to let him have a lot more of the money?

“Is there anyone else, besides blood relations, who might want him dead?”

Mrs. Treadles bit her lower lip. “If he weren’t dead, but had simply left, I would have thought that those at Cousins who oppose me had finally succeeded in persuading him that it was in everyone’s best interest to let me fail. But as overwhelming as my own problem seemed to me, I don’t believe that is why he died.”

Lord Ingram’s interlaced fingers tightened around one another. The weary reluctance in her words—it cost her to speak the truth. She would have preferred by far to be the picture of confident vivacity, and present her tenure at Cousins Manufacturing as one of brilliant success. But for the sake of the investigation, she must swallow her pride and admit that she was foundering.

“It is early in the investigation,” said Holmes, “too early to dismiss any possibilities, even ones that seem unlikely. Any other reason you know of, Mrs. Treadles, why someone might want Mr. Longstead dead—or gone?”

Mrs. Treadles shook her head. “He could be blunt, Mr. Longstead—it was the very reason that he and my father got along so well. My father used to say that one could depend on Mr. Longstead for the unvarnished truth, because he had no vanity and therefore no desire to embroider results or shift blame onto others. For the same reason, one could tell him the unvarnished truth, because he would never take offense at being informed that his work needed improving.

“So yes, Mr. Longstead spoke the truth as he saw it. But he did not use truth as a cudgel, as some do, or an instrument for the wounding of others. He was deeply decent and deeply kind, and his honesty was equally decent and equally kind.”

Lord Ingram was beginning to regret not having met Mr. Longstead while the man still lived. Some men’s deaths left little besides unfulfilled obligations and the inconvenience of a corpse. The departure of others tore holes in the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to know them.

Mrs. Treadles’s eyes glimmered with unshed tears. “My father loved Mr. Longstead as a brother. More than a brother, I’d say. I don’t remember him ever being as happy to see my late uncle, or having as many good things to say of him. He always did lament that it wasn’t the same at Cousins after Mr. Longstead left. That he felt lonely without his brother-in-arms.”

Holmes nodded, as if in sympathy, but not so much that she didn’t immediately pose another question sure to discomfit her client.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

#Review - Kingdom of Sea and Stone by Mara Rutherford #YA #Fantasy

Series: Crown of Coral and Pearl (#2)
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Epic Fantasy

The highly anticipated sequel to Mara Rutherford’s stunning YA fantasy debut, Crown of Coral and Pearl, in which a young woman from a village on the sea must impersonate her twin on land to save everyone she loves from a tyrannical prince. Perfect for fans of Roshani Chokshi, Laura Sebastian, and Sarah Tolcser.

Ever since Nor was forced to go to a nearby kingdom in her sister’s place, she’s wanted nothing more than to return to the place and people she loves. But when her wish comes true, she soon finds herself cast out from both worlds, with a war on the horizon.

As an old enemy resurfaces more powerful than ever, Nor will have to keep the kingdom from falling apart with the help of Prince Talin and Nor’s twin sister, Zadie. There are forces within the world more mysterious than any of them ever guessed—and they’ll need to stay alive long enough to conquer them…

Mara Rutherford's Kingdom of Sea and Stone is the sequel to Crown of Coral and Pearl. The story picks up right after the aftermath of the events of Kingdom of Coral and Pearl. Nor has escaped Ilara leaving her love Prince Talin behind to escape to Varenia with her twin sister Zadie. But things aren't exactly smooth. Nor believes she killed Ceren, Samiel is still missing, but presumed to alive, Varenians aren't exactly happy about Nor's return which leads to bad trouble, and Nor can't see a way forward to whatever happens next which is where the story really begins.

Shortly after arriving home, Prince Talin arrives with Grig and Osius. He is wanted for conspiracy against Ceren with his mother Talia who is preparing her army to go to war to take back the throne for her daughter. In this world, the rightful ruler always comes from the female line. To make matters worse, Ceren is very much alive, and is now King thanks to what happen between him and Nor which gives them a connection which they can use to read each other’s memories. He has no intention of allowing Nor to escape his desire for revenge which puts Nor's people directly in the crossfire. 

Ceren ends up chasing Nor, Zadie, Talin and his loyal guards already into Galteth. Galteth means a new world to create, and new characters to meet including Roan and Adriel who will become one of the best sources for Nor to learn about her healing abilities. Nor and allies try to get the Galethians to ally with them against Ceren by joining with Talia who is conscripting anyone old enough to pick up a weapon. Nor is given a horse named Titania. The horse has a mind of its own and really takes to Nor quickly even though she's from the sea where no horses exist. Titania is an amazing creature as well as being smart and loyal.

Nor and Zaida’s relationship was so strong and empowering most of the time. The extent they would sacrifice for the other was beautiful. There were times when Zaida knew exactly what she wanted while Nor was struggling to choose what she was going to do next. I also appreciated that it appears her parents were more accepting of the daughter this time around. They basically decided she wasn't worth when she permanently scared her face when she was a child. I have to say that the author made Ceren seem sympathetic after revealing what happened to him under Talia. 

Throughout this book, Nor works way too hard to be accepted by those around her which gives Adriel an opening to teach her to accept who she is, what she is capable of, and not giving a damn about what others believe. I am surprised by the ending, but I guess I shouldn't be since this was supposed to be aimed at young women and what they, not others, decide to do with their lives. With means that Nor's adventures end on an open note. I've attempted to research whether this is a duology or a trilogy. It seems that the author has two books she's working on that have nothing to do with this series.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

#Review - The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes #YA #Thrillers #Suspense

Series: The Inheritance Games #1
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: September 1, 2020
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Library
Genre:  Young Adult / Thrillers & Suspense

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why -- or even who Tobias Hawthorne is.

To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man's touch -- and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes. Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a conwoman, and he's determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather's last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive.

The Inheritance Games is the first installment in author Jennifer Lynn Barnes The Inheritance Games series. This book has been compared to Knives Out, and One of Us is Lying. High School Junior Avery Grambs is a really good student who wants to attend the University of Connecticut upon graduation, if she can get enough scholarships. Avery has been living with her half-sister Libby since her mom died. But, after an argument with her sister’s boyfriend, Avery finds herself living in her car. Then the unexpected happens.

Avery is called to the principal's office where she receives the shock of her life. Thanks to her sister’s idiocy of tossing away mail, Avery discovers that she has been named in the will of a recently deceased Texas billionaire and philanthropist Tobias Hawthorne. She has no idea who the man is, or why he would have left anything to her, but she has no choice. Avery is flown to Texas where the reading of the will take place by Tobias's lawyers. Avery discovers that Tobias left much of his money to her. But there is a catch. She must move into Hawthorne manor and stay there an entire year or lose everything. 

She must share a home with Tobias's four grandsons; Grayson, Alexander, Jameson, and Nash who have no idea where this interloper came from. Could she be Cinderella or is she Marie Antoinette? She must deal with the angry Hawthorne women who are willing to be cutthroat if it means getting rid of Avery for good. She must figure out why any of this happened to her by playing a mysterious game while trying to survive the Hawthorne family who have all been disinherited. If she can survive for a year living with the boys, she will inherit a fortune. If she doesn't, things get really twisted as to whom will get the money.

Avery is not only likable, but someone you want to root for. While she isn't perfect, she cares about those around her and learns from her mistakes, which is an excellent example for readers of all ages. She finds herself attached to Jameson, as well as Grayson who seems to want to help. Then there is Xander who may be the most intelligent member of this cast as well as Nash who seems nonchalant about the whole charade. They all have  a game to play as well, and I don't think that we've uncovered the end of the games that Tobias left behind for Avery and his Grandsons. Then there's the mystery that her own mother took to the grave when she said, "I have a secret."

After living with her older sister and struggling to get by, she enters a strange world of money, power, danger, and family secrets where everyone seems to be carrying daggers ready to stab Avery in the back. The closer she gets to the truth as to why she was chosen to be the heir, her relationships with the boys, and her very survival are tested. Even though the boys and Avery have vastly different agendas, they end up working together to solve the games puzzles and clues. Just when you think you have solved the clues; each clue revealed another secret.

The Inheritance Games will captivate readers with not one, not two, but three mysteries--all interwoven in one masterful thriller. The puzzle-filled family estate, privileged and complicated family, and fish-out-of-water protagonist all make The Inheritance Games a must read. Avery not only lives the dream of inheriting billions from an unknown benefactor (not to mention a mansion and staff), but she also moves in with four gorgeous, intriguing guys who are all playing a game where Avery is either Cinderella or Marie Antoinette.

This was a fantastic mystery with a lot of twists and turns right up until the final page. Give this to fans of the high stakes teen mystery of One of Us is Lying, the clever puzzles and riddles of The Westing Game, the love triangle of Jenny Han's The Summer I Turned Pretty, and the clever, snarky, high stakes action of Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series.