The second installment in the Lady Emily mystery series, A Poisoned Season begins with Lady Emily Ashton at the tail end of mourning for her husband. (We learn of his death in And Only To Deceive) As a fresh start, she decides to re-join the London social scene on her own terms. Newcomer to the social scene, is a Charles Berry who claims that he is the direct descendant of Louie XVI and Marie Antoinette. Not only this, but he intends to take Lady Emily as his mistress (although she won’t have any of it!) Additionally, it appears that someone has been stealing items that belonged to Marie Antoinette, and just as the mystery appears to deepen with this new development, the owner of one of the items is murdered, deepening it further. It is up to Lady Emily to find the true burglar and murderer before he or she finds her, as it seems that the thief is becoming exceptionally interested in Lady Emily. She must work quickly as her own life is at stake! Will she be able to make it in time?
Alexander does a fantastic job with A Poisoned Season. Just like her first novel, I was hanging on the edge of my seat from cover to cover. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the new characters that we’re introduced to. Lady Emily’s childhood friend Jeremy, Duke of Bainbridge was a perfectly added dose of comedic relief. We’re also treated to more of the romantic tete-a-tete between Colin Hargreaves and Lady Emily, as Colin continues to try to convince Emily to marry him.
As I stated in my review of the And Only To Deceive, had Jane Austen and Agatha Christie been writing partners, Tasha Alexander’s books would have been the outcome. The mystery that Alexander sets up for us is wonderful. I had my thoughts on who the culprits could have been from the beginning, and was shocked to find out how wrong I was by the end. The ending completely blew me away, as I was not expecting it AT ALL. Throw into the investigation some background on Marie Antoinette, fine art, and literary discussions, and you have a mystery that you actually learn things from. This is probably one of my favorite things about the Lady Emily series (I’m currently reading book #4). They’re intelligent mysteries that make comments about the social/intellectual restraints of the Victorian time period, while at the same time providing characters and story lines that encourage you, the reader, to further your own knowledge of the events/people/places mentioned.
I cannot recommend Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series enough. It’s literally all I’ve been talking about for the past two weeks, and I have been recommending it to everyone. They’re engaging, intellectual, funny, and sophisticated reads that are sure to please mystery, adventure, and historical fiction fans abound.
5 out of 5 Stars
A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander
Harper Collins (2008)
Paperback 352 pages