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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Femme Fatale: An Irene Adler Novel (Douglas, Carole Nelson) » User review

More focused, but Holmes is barely there in this American adventure

  • Mar 9, 2011
  • by
OK, so my previous review was of Carole Nelson Douglas Castle Rouge, and I was a bit harsh in my review, but having the followup novel with me on my two-weelk stay in Beijing, I decided to give it a spin, and found I liked it a little better.  The main reason was that this time around it was more focused, sticking mostly with Irene Adler and her female Waston Nell Huxleigh as they journey to America on a mysterious search for the mother Adler never knew.  This is at the behest of Nellie Bly, the historical pioneering female journalist in the muckraker tradition who is in search of a front-page story.

It turns out that all three women have to face their uncertain pasts, and of course Holmes gets involved even though he is barely there in the novel--yet he gets the prime place of revealing the mystery in the end.  Because Douglas hasn't followed Holmes at all through the story and all of his solution has been off screen, this final reveal turns into an overlong and too-talky 32-page chapter that drags down what could have been an exciting ending.

Oh, and the promised Oscar Wilde sighting?  He has a very small role early in the novel before the scene shifts to New York, which was probably a wise choice by Douglas.  Attempting to make up witty dialogue and put it in the mouth of the sharpest phraseologist in English literature usually does not go well for lesser writers--which Douglas most assuredly is, but  then compared to Wilde, most are.  I am certain that she has a devoted fan base in the female-focused Sherlock Holmes continuation genre (don't laugh--see Laurie R. King's Bee series such as The Language of Bees), and this book will go over easy with that fan base.

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About the reviewer
Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #36
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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About this book


Although Irene Adler appeared in only one of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories ("A Scandal in Bohemia"), this beautiful, intelligent and mysterious character, a Victorian woman well ahead of her time, has taken on a vivid new life in seven novels by the prolific Douglas (Good Night, Mr. Holmes, etc.). In this latest frolic, an alarming letter from Elizabeth Jane Cochrane (aka Nellie Bly), an American journalist who helped Irene pursue Jack the Ripper in her two previous adventures (Chapel Noir and Castle Rouge), is enough to lure Irene and her na‹ve companion, Nell Huxleigh, to New York City. The New York of 1889 provides new and fertile ground for the author's imagination, as Irene searches for clues to her dimly remembered childhood and hunts a serial killer who is rapidly eliminating everyone with knowledge of Irene's past. And where Irene goes, one can also expect to find her sometime ally, sometime adversary, Sherlock Holmes. Fans will relish the ornate, elliptical language Douglas employs for her Adler novels, as well as the discovery of fresh bits of her heroine's biography. Book groups will welcome the reader's guide at the end.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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ISBN-10: 0765306824
ISBN-13: 978-0765306821
Author: Carole Nelson Douglas
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Forge Books
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