So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Spider Dance. Carole Nelson Douglas

This is the latest entry in a series of novels based on the fictional character Irene Adler Norton from the Sherlock Holmes story A Scandal In Bohemia. This is also the second volume of a duology that began with Femme Fatale. In this latest volume Irene is in New York City of 1889 and seeking to uncover if her mother is the infamous Lola Montez. If that is not enough, she gets drawn into Holmes' case involving threats to the Vanderbilt family.

Carole Nelson Douglas has a delightful way of blending fictional and historic characters together with her own strong feminist point of view to re-envision the role of women in the nineteenth century. In this particular foray, we see the lives of Lola Montez, Alva and Consuelo Vanderbilt, and reporter Nellie Bly re-examined through the feminist perspective of Irene Adler and her partner in detective work, Nell Huxleigh.

Douglas has also developed a delightful multi-narrator style for revealing her story that mixes entries from various participants into a lively manner of plot evolution. This is offset with "quotes" from various historical sources that introduce each chapter. These two narrative devices are well executed in this particular story.

So take an exciting journey into late 19th century New York and explore the mysteries that Ms. Douglas unfolds. She has an excellent attention to detail and history that brings the subject to life.


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