Publication Date: March 14, 2023
Series or Standalone: Lady Sherlock #7
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads – StoryGraph
CW: murder; blood; suicidal ideation
I’ve been a huge Lady Sherlock fan for years now as it falls perfectly into my favorite (made-up) genre – lady detectives in Victorian England. Truly, we are so blessed that Berkley gave us a new Veronica Speedwell and a new Lady Holmes story within a week of each other.
A Tempest at Sea marks the seventh entry in Sherry Thomas’ incredibly smart spin on Sherlock Holmes. This book, more so than the previous few books in the series, feels like a lighter adventure – if you could say murder is light. In many ways, this feels like a classic detective story in the vein of Christie’s Death on the Nile. The stakes are lower as the threat from Moriarty has lessened after the events of Miss Moriarty, I Presume?, so it’s a nice change of pace to have a self-contained murder mystery aboard the RMS Provence. Now, that’s not to say the threat from Moriarty is gone entirely – he’s still lingering out there, but it’s nice that he’s not at the center of the mystery this time.
I found this mystery to be super fun, with plenty of red herrings and misdirections to keep you guessing until the end. I had my suspicions on who the murderer may be, and I was thrilled that my guess was correct. I loved the end of this when all the accusations were formally presented and the evidence was laid bare for everyone to examine – it was brilliantly done as Thomas interspersed scenes from Holmes’ investigation with the testimony helping to put all the final pieces together. I also loved how Thomas worked the murder mystery into Charlotte’s broader reasons for being on board, tying in some larger series plot points at the end, which was super fun.
Now, I do have one small tiny complaint with this book – there wasn’t enough Charlotte! Charlotte is in disguise for most of this book as Mrs. Ramsay, a delightful older woman. But given that she’s in disguise, most of her detective work happens behind the scenes. It felt like most of the scenes with her “detecting” were in flashbacks, and we didn’t get as many scenes from her perspective as I’m used to. Lord Ingram plays a much more central role in this book, filling in for Charlotte in many ways as her eyes, ears, and hands during the investigation. Much of the information in this book is revealed through police questioning of the various suspects, with some flashbacks of Holmes and Ingram investigating, which did lead this book to feel a little different in style from other Lady Holmes novels. That’s not necessarily bad, but it gave this a different feeling and vibe than the other books in the series. I wanted a tad more of Charlotte being her brilliant self than we got to see.
One thing I loved about this book was the continued progression we saw in Livia Holmes. As much as the Lady Holmes series is Charlotte’s story, it’s also Livia’s. The growth we’ve seen in Livia over the previous books really comes to a head in this book. I was delighted to see her gain the confidence to stand up for herself, especially against her TRULY odious mother. She literally had me cheering for her, and I may have said, “You go, girl!” at the end of the book, as she made me so proud. It’s been a joy watching her realize her self-worth and value, and I hope a happily ever after is in the cards for her and Mr. Marbleton soon!
Speaking of happily ever afters, the progress in Charlotte and Lord Ingram’s relationship in this book was a delight. While the romance may not be center stage, and we spend less time with Ash and Charlotte together than in some previous books, what we got felt monumental, even if what was said was relatively small things. I cannot wait to see where Thomas plans to take their relationship in future books as it continues to grow.
Despite feeling like there wasn’t enough Charlotte, I still found myself really enjoying A Tempest at Sea! Sherry Thomas is such a beautiful writer. I’m always in awe of her mastery of the mystery and plot, plus her ability to create such rich and nuanced characters. She’s breathed such new life into the Sherlock Holmes stories, and I will read as many of these books as I can get my hands on! Here’s to hoping this series won’t end anytime soon!
Thank you to Berkley for the ARC. All thoughts, ideas, and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Want a sneak peek at what’s to come in A Tempest at Sea by Sherry Thomas? Keep reading for an excerpt!
Charlotte Holmes’s brilliant mind and deductive skills are pulled into a dangerous investigation at sea in this new mystery of the bestselling Lady Sherlock series.
After feigning her own death in Cornwall to escape from Moriarty’s perilous attention, Charlotte Holmes goes into hiding. But then she receives a tempting offer: Find a dossier the crown is desperately seeking, and she might be able to go back to a normal life.
Her search leads her aboard the RMS Provence. But on the night Charlotte makes her move to retrieve the dossier, in the midst of a terrifying storm in the Bay of Biscay, a brutal murder takes place on the ship.
Instead of solving the crime, as she is accustomed to doing, Charlotte must take care not to be embroiled in this investigation, lest it become known to those who harbor ill intentions that Sherlock Holmes is abroad and still very much alive.
The RMS Provence, berthed quayside at the Port of Southampton, shone in the sun, its steel hull a gleaming black, its upper levels blazing white. Four masts, each with three sets of cross-beams, rose fifty feet from the weather deck. Though they had the full complement of rigging, no sails had been unfurled to flap in the breeze. A platoon of seagulls squatted on the cross-beams; one strutted across as if on parade.
The masts were only auxiliary features. The Provence’s propulsion depended on a triple-expansion steam engine that drove a single screw propeller. Two stubby and rather incongruous-looking funnels rose between the masts, to conduct exhaust from the great boilers below up and away from the vessel.
“Are you sure that one over there is not…her?” asked Mrs. Watson suddenly, her voice low and anxious.
Charlotte, standing with her back to the gunwale, her face tilted up to admire the structural design of the Provence—so as not to appear too interested in the passengers—glanced toward “that one over there” referred to by Mrs. Watson, a woman of about thirty who had her hand on the shoulder of a young girl, the girl just tall enough to peer over the gunwale down at the still bustling quay.
“No,” she murmured, telling Mrs. Watson what the latter already know. “The one we’re looking for would be traveling with a boy. Two boys, in fact.”
Three weeks had passed since Charlotte and Lord Remington’s emissary had agreed to terms. Her search since had been thorough, systematic, and fruitless. As fate would have it, her final possibility, a German governess, was scheduled to board the Provence, on the exact sailing as that taken by Livia, Mrs. Newell, and Lord Ingram.
The ship had a maximum passenger capacity of only seventy. It sold only first-class passages, so everyone came aboard on the same gangplank. Charlotte was sure she’d missed no one, but noon was drawing nigh and Frau Schmidt and her charges had yet to appear.
She turned around. The Provence measured four hundred forty feet in length and forty-four feet across at the beam, but other than the towering masts, next to which the funnels looked like dwarfs, it was not a terribly tall ship. With a hull full of coal and cargo, and the quay a good six feet above water, Charlotte did not loom much higher above the quay than she would have been, looking down from the bow window of her office at number 18 to Upper Baker Street below.
Burly stevedores surrounded the last few wagons of provisions. Enormous slabs of ice, cover in straw mats, were crane-lifted into the hold to keep those provisions fresh. Further away a mail wagon jostled toward shipside, eager to entrust its contents to a royal mail ship headed for the distant outposts of the empire.
Wait, the man coming up the gangplank, early middle age, tall, slightly portly, with a deep-featured face and a cordial expression, was he…
Yes, he was. Inspector Brighton of Scotland Yard.
Charlotte glanced down at the water, it was low tide in the estuary and a band of green growth clung to the side of the quay. The air smelled of coal smoke, grease, and a hint of rubbish. She did not look at Inspector Brighton again, not even when he must have disappeared inside. There had been a Brighton on the passenger list, but she and Lord Ingram had not considered that it might be their former adversary.
What was he doing here?
Excerpted from A Tempest at Sea by Sherry Thomas Copyright © 2023 by Sherry Thomas. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
About Sherry Thomas
USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas is one of the most acclaimed historical romance authors writing today and a two-time RITA Award winner. Learn more online at www.sherrythomas.com.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Sparks Harriman