Towards the end of 2011/beginning of 2012 I was introduced to a character by the name of Lady Emily. She is a woman of the Victorian Era, a time when woman should be seen and not heard. Lady Emily, however, is a woman who bucks that notion and delves into learning, reading, languages, art, geography, etc. I found so much of myself in her at times that I flew through the first book of Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series And Only to Deceive. After falling head-over-heels in love with Alexander’s writing, characters, and settings I quickly made my way through the other five available books: A Poisoned Season, A Fatal Waltz, Tears of Pearl, Dangerous to Know, and A Crimson Warning (all links lead to my reviews).
In the latest installment of the Lady Emily series, Death In the Floating City, we follow Emily as her adventures take her to Italy for the first time. Many years ago, Emily’s childhood arch nemesis Emma Callum, shocked English society by eloping to Venice, Italy with her lover, an Italian count. Despite their past, Emma has now turned to Emily for help as she finds herself entangled in a mystery that involves the death of her father-in-law and the disappearance of her husband. Emily takes her up on the offer, and travels to Venice with her husband, Colin Hargreaves. There, Emily discovers that there is more to this story than what meets the eye, and she finds that she must look to the past to solve this crime in the present day.
I’ve always been impressed with authors who can write 5+ books in a series and keep each one feeling fresh and new, while continuing to develop the characters and relationships in new and exciting ways. Death in the Floating City is the seventh book in the Lady Emily series, yet it reads with the excitement and freshness of the first, And Only to Deceive. It’s 100% due to Alexander’s talent as a writer. Not only should she continue to write the Lady Emily series, but I think she should start writing travel books as well. Her descriptions of Venice are astonishingly beautiful, stunning, and so visual. At times I could close my eyes and completely see the scene she was painting for me.
When I read Alexander’s books I literally become so engulfed by them. The characters’ sadness is my sadness, their happiness is my happiness as well. By the time I got to the last few pages of the book my face hurt SO MUCH from smiling. I walked around the whole day with just a goofy grin on my face because I was completely overwhelmed with happiness. Books that can have that kind of effect on a person are my favorite. It’s a clear indication that the writer got you enveloped in the story. The added surprise to Death in the Floating City was a book within the book! Not only do you become completely obsessed with the murder mystery, but you are fascinated by the tragedy that is Besina and Nicolo’s story. I was slightly saddened that Colin was missing for large chunks of this book, but understood the reason for it once I got to the end.
I’m excited about the direction that the series is taking. The decisions and discoveries made at the end of Death in the Floating City should create some interesting problems/conflicts to overcome in the next books of the series. Book eight, Behind the Shattered Glass, is slated to release this upcoming October.
On a completely different side note, Elsie Lyons has been designing the covers of Alexander’s novels since book five (Dangerous to Know) and she needs a shout out. These covers are exquisite and to put it simply, I love them.
4 out of 5 Stars
This is my twelfth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge.
Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander
Minotaur Books (2012)
Hardcover: 320 pages