The Art of Theft

The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas. New York: Berkley, 2019, 305 pages.

Fall and a good mystery novel are a perfect pairing. One favorite series to curl up with is the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas.

The first book in the series, A Study in Scarlet Women, was released in 2016. Well-born Charlotte Holmes, tired of being stifled by Victorian era societal expectations, escapes her family home. She is determined to make a living relying on her impressive observational skills and keen mind. She ultimately finds refuge with Mrs. John Watson, a widowed former actress. The two form a partnership and open a detective consulting agency. Clever subterfuge is deployed to make clients believe they are seeking the services of a Sherlock Holmes.

“The Art of Theft,” number four in the series is due to hit shelves in October. Sherlock Holmes has become a household name due to “his” past successes in locating missing persons and objects. Their newest case is quite different. Holmes has been hired to steal a large piece of priceless art (and the secrets it contains) from a chateau in France during a glamorous Yuletide ball. Holmes and Watson form a small team of their closest friends and depart for France. The already complex mission is further complicated by the unexpected appearance of their nemesis Moriarty. It is up to the remarkable Charlotte Holmes to plan the perfect heist down to the last detail.

Each novel in this series is great fun, but it’s possible that this is the best yet. The story is expertly plotted. There are small clues sprinkled throughout the novel, but the Holmes’ great reveal is one satisfying surprise.  For longtime readers of the series, the deep dive into Mrs. Watson’s past will be especially rewarding. The high stakes, fast-paced story, and plain good writing will have all readers clamoring for book five in the Charlotte Holmes saga.

After finishing the Lady Sherlock series, be sure to check out similar historical mysteries by authors Deanna Raybourn, C.S. Harris, and Jacqueline Winspear.

Amanda Gramley is the Adult Programming Coordinator with the Alamance County Public Libraries.  Contact her at agramley@alamancelibraries.org.