Before I get started I want to say that I recommend this book. I will kind of spend more time below on the areas were I was disappointed but don't let that mislead you, I do like this book and think many like it even more. If your a fan of New Pulp, or 19th century literature, or of the Wold Newton concept, or just someone who wants more genre fiction with strong female leads and, both this and the Shadows of the Opera series are a must read.
I'm not a big fan of Rick's Vampire mythos, and I imagine allot of Vampire purists would feel the same way (I'm not a purest though) but fortunately their only really directly part of 1 story.
I'm reviewing this before Shadows of the Opera because in concept this premise is more appealing to me then the adventures of the more heterosexual Shadow distaff counterpart The Revenant. But Shadows of The Opera was longer in the making in Rick's imagination so it's stories are more well developed, so far anyway.
The concept of an ongoing battle of wits between a clever female Detective and a cunning Femme Fatale Villainess, who have also been Sapphic lovers, further complicated by having a shared half sister who's rather naive. Is what first made me want to get this. Thing is that premise only really seems to describe 2 of stories, “The Lady in the Black Gloves” and “Corridors of Deceit”. All the stories are good, but I was hoping more like those 2.
The earlier ones set up their back-story and build the universe, but in doing that I feel the last stories of Retribution in Blood should have also been re-printed here at the beginning, those stories directly explain what happened, these prologue stories are mostly just about how other characters learn it (none of them get quite the whole story).
And then after that the story seems to get taken over by the unique frienemy relationship between Marga, Josephine's loyal enforcer, and Blythe Irene's one eyes BFF. Which is very interesting, but might annoy some people who don't like when the Fonzi syndrome happens. A similar phenomenon kind of happens in Shadows of The Opera with the Jade Seraph, but that as much.
The sequel will no doubt continue that storyline, but I hope it also gets back to exploring the complex relationship between Josephine and Irene and their Sister. I have to say how easily Sabine was talked out of her belief that Josephine hated her was disappointing, I hope that resurfaces.
The last stories are more like epilogues, the Western themed one was of limited appeal to me, but the Boer War one was pretty clever.
One of the most fascinating this is the continuity, using Paul Feval's The Blackcoats criminal empire to connect various fictional criminals is a natural decision, but Rick does it well. It's a very Nerdy series that this Nerd loves. The Afterward is very informative for those who may not be familiar with all the characters.