So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Adventuress. Carol Nelson Douglas.

The Adventuress is the second in a series of mystery novels based on the career of Irene Adler Norton, a character from one of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. In Doyle's A Scandal In Bohemia Irene Adler outsmarts Holmes and wins his lasting admiration. Carol Nelson Douglas has taken this story as the basis for a series of delightful mystery novels that include Holmes and his companion Watson in mysteries that run parallel to the Holmes stories.

She has also created a framework for this continued series based on a current day historian Fiona Witherspoon who has supposedly discovered the diaries of Irene's companion Penelope "Nell" Huxleigh and unpublished memoirs of Holmes and Dr. Watson that she blends into the novels of the series.

This novel (which was originally published as Good Morning, Irene) takes an obscure reference in Doyle's story "The Sign of the Four" to Holmes going to France on a case involving a missing young woman as the basis for The Adventuress. Also worked into the plot is the 1889 marriage of Alice, Duchess of Richelieu to Prince Albert Grimaldi of Monaco. Anchored on these two points, Ms. Douglas spins a tale of lost treasure and a secret society of men marked with alphabetic tattoos who are drowning by jumping into rivers. The missing girl, Sarah Bernhardt, and Sherlock Holmes all help in solving the mystery of the drowning men and lost treasure.

The story is told through Nell's journals and her prudish country parson's daughter point of view. She is great at describing the details of Irene's lovely wardrobe and meticulously preserving the incidents of the case. A great read in a delightful series of novels. No prior knowledge of Sherlock Holmes is needed to enjoy this book.

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