Jane Austen spoiled us. She wrote novels about amazing women who oftentimes bucked society’s norms. Nowadays, it’s difficult to find heroines like Elizabeth Bennet that have us rooting for them page after page. Luckily, author Tasha Alexander decided to gift the world with a tenacious woman Austen herself would be proud of: Lady Emily Hargreaves. In A Crimson Warning, the sixth novel in the Lady Emily mystery series, we are again thrown into a mystery that seems to have no clear ending. It is up to Lady Emily’s wit and cunning to save the day and keep the forces of evil at bay for yet another day.
Lady Emily has been busy. From barely escaping with her life in Constantinople and Normandy, she hopes to finally wind things down and come home to Mayfair and enjoy the normal comforts of being happily married and finally settled. For a while, she actually accomplishes this. Lady Emily even gets to join the Women’s Liberal Federation and work towards obtaining the right to vote for women. Unfortunately, this ideal world is shattered in A Crimson Warning, when Lady Emily learns that an unknown person has been splashing red paint onto the fronts of many of the wealthier homes in London. These are no ordinary homes, however, as their owners possess secrets that are potentially damaging and are hidden for one reason or another. Soon enough, all of the upper class in London fear that they too could be the target of this criminal, and that he or she may be involved in more sinister acts than simply painting the front of a home with a red slash. Can Lady Emily and Colin find this evil individual before it is too late and people start disappearing? What are the secrets that these wealthy Londoners go to such lengths to protect?
Less than a month ago I had never heard of the Lady Emily series. Shame on me! I’ve now read all six novels in the series and am eagerly awaiting Death in the Floating City, the seventh in the series, which is scheduled for release this October. When I reviewed the first Lady Emily novel, And Only To Deceive, my thoughts on Alexander’s writing was that it was a hybrid between Jane Austen and Agatha Christie. Six novels later, those feelings remain unchanged. Alexander is an amazing mystery writer. I still had no idea whodunit 40 pages from the end. Sure, I had my guesses regarding the culprit, but her writing is so precise and clean that it is not until the antagonist is finally revealed that you realize all the clues that were left for you to follow.
As I said above, Lady Emily is a woman that Austen herself would be proud of. She completely disregards what society expects of women. She refuses to be an idle wife, staying home with nothing to do but plan balls and dinners and make social calls. Instead, she uses her mind to explore literature, art, and languages, much to the delight of her husband, Colin. Colin works as an agent for the crown and is fully supportive of her “crimes against society”. In A Crimson Warning we get to see a more political side of Emily, as she gets involved with the Women’s Liberal Federation. It’s through all of her side interests (i.e art, literature) that we learn about that time period. Alexander uses Emily’s “hobbies” to inform us about what was going on back then. It’s obviously meticulously researched and has oftentimes led me to want to read and research certain time periods further.
I have to say of all six novels I think that A Crimson Warning is my favorite to date. We really get a sense of Alexander’s witty and playful side here. Her scavenger hunt through the British Museum and whiskey drinking scene between Emily and her good friend Jeremy were the best parts of the novel in my opinion. Although we don’t normally see this side of Alexander, I’m really glad that we got to in this novel. It added an extra touch to an already wonderful novel that I heartily recommend to everyone. Fast paced and full of wit and terrifying danger, A Crimson Warning (and the entire Lady Emily series) is not one you want to miss. Add it to your to-read pile as soon as possible, you won’t be disappointed.
5 out of 5 Stars
A Crimson Warning (Lady Emily Series #6), by Tasha Alexander
St. Martin’s Press (2011)
Hardcover (336) pages
Kimberly Denny-Ryder: is the owner/moderator of Reflections of a Book Addict, a book blog dedicated to following her journey of reading 100 books a year, while attempting to keep a life! When not reading, Kim can be found volunteering as the co-chair of a 24hr cancer awareness event, as well as an active member of Quinnipiac University’s alumni association. When not reading or volunteering, Kim can be found at her full-time job working in vehicle funding. She lives with her husband Todd and two cats, Belle and Sebastian, in Connecticut.
© 2007 – 2012 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose