George V. Reilly

Review: Spider Dance

Spider Dance
Title: Spider Dance
Author: Carole Nelson Douglas
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Publisher: Forge
Copyright: 2004
Pages: 512
Keywords: mystery, historical
Reading period: 6–16 July, 2008

As Dr. Watson famously said of Irene Adler, "To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman." Carole Nelson Douglas has parlayed Irene Adler into a series of books.

In Spider Dance, Irene and her friend, Nell Huxleigh, are in New York City, trying to find out who Irene’s long-lost mother was. The infamous Lola Montez is the most likely contender. Holmes is also in town, in­ves­ti­gat­ing a grotesque murder at the Vanderbilt mansion. Inevitably, the two cases become tangled up.

Even by the standards of Sher­lock­iana, the plot is improbable: rogue Ul­tra­mon­tanes, lost fortunes, mausoleums at midnight. It’s en­ter­tain­ing though, and well-told. Irene is a pistol. Lola, whose story is woven through the book, even more so. Nell, the primary narrator, is a parson’s daughter and a former governess. Her prig­gish­ness is fraying under the assaults of the un­con­ven­tion­al lifestyle she now leads with Irene.

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