So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Chapel Noir. Carole Nelson Douglas

Irene Adler is the only female adversary to outwit Sherlock Holmes and she may have stolen his heart as well. Carol Nelson Douglas has taken the brief outline of Irene Adler in the Sherlock Holmes adventure A Scandal In Bohemia and fleshed it out into a marvelous sleuth of her own design. She has created her own series of books with Irene Adler as a 19th century detective with a feminist flair.

Adler's latest two-part adventure, Chapel Noir and Castle Rouge, is told through a series of journal entries by her female companion Penelope Huxleigh. Additional chapters are supposedly taken from notes written by a prostitute called Pink and sections of a mysterious yellow book of anonymous authorship. This multiple "authorship" allows Douglas to present her story from different perspectives.

And what a story! In Chapel Noir Adler is called on by Baron de Alphonse Rothschild to investigate a particularly bloody murder in a Parisian bordello. Before long Jack the Ripper is the suspect and Sherlock Holmes (sans Watson) has come to Paris to investigate. As the plot moves on, more famous historical figures are drawn in either as suspects or allies. 470 pages later I found, instead of the end, that this is the first of a two part story.

A rollicking adventure that continues for another 470 pages in Castle Rouge. Lots of fun if you can stand the gruesome aspects of the crimes.

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