Beautiful, headstrong and romantic Lady Emily is back. A Victorian woman with modern-day attitudes, Emily Hargreaves has proven herself a worthy crime solver alongside her handsome husband, Colin. She proves her mettle once again in Tasha Alexander's new novel.
Lady Emily's latest escapade begins as she is taking an afternoon ride astride her horse around her mother-in-law's estate in the Normandy countryside. Ostensibly in France to recuperate from a gunshot wound, Emily is also trying to work through her grief over losing their unborn child, a tragedy that did little to endear her to her mother-in-law. While Mrs. Hargreaves may have opened her home to her son and his wife, she shows no attempt to hide her disapproval of the young woman.
It would seem likely that Emily's recovery might be further hindered when she happens upon the bloodied body of Edith Prier, obviously the victim of a violent murder. Instead, it immediately stimulates Emily's desire --- to solve the mystery, to find justice for the unfortunate woman, to catch a despicable killer. And if it means working with her husband in that desire, so much the better.
Following protocol, they summon the authorities, but the investigation falls far short of thorough. Are the police being purposely lax because the victim was a woman who escaped from an asylum? What other explanation could there be, unless it is outright incompetence?
Colin and Emily have their own methods for solving murders. They start off by interviewing the neighbors, George and Madeline, whose home is quite near to the crime scene. The couple claims to have seen nothing, except possibly a child whom Madeline has caught a glimpse of on occasion. That revelation raises eyebrows. In truth, Lady Emily fears for the poor woman's sanity. That is, until she hears a girl crying outside her window.
Soon, the discovery that Sebastian Capet, a supremely charming art thief, was in the area at the time of the murder, leads the authorities to put him at the top of their suspect list. As Emily is well acquainted with Monsieur Capet, she scoffs at the idea of him as the murderer. He might be a romantic cad with a penchant for lifting valuable paintings, but that is only his way of making sure the art finds its way to a home where it will be appreciated. Monet is unimpressed by Capet's argument.
The thread of madness runs through the story, as our sleuths try to separate the truth from the imagined. And family secrets make their job more difficult yet, as do lying witnesses. It seems that everyone has something to hide. Even Lady Emily.
Tasha Alexander's clever dialogue, along with her convincing period detail, brings life to her story and showcases the breathtaking beauty of the Normandy countryside. Considering its incomparable setting and irresistible characters, Lady Emily's fan club is sure to grow by leaps and bounds with DANGEROUS TO KNOW.
--- Reviewed by Kate Ayers