Just Too Perfect to Really Like

Emily and Colin returned in this, their sixth outing together as the crime-solving duo of Victorian England. I loved the concept of an anonymous baddie painting the front doors of London's elite with red paint to announce countdowns to scandalous revelations, ending the careers or lives of society's most respectable scions. Murder, abduction, tension and shame are on the menu in this addition to the series, and Emily has to assist her agent husband as they struggle to uncover the spiteful criminal's identity.

While the story had great possibility, I just couldn't really get into it for about 130 pages or so. It began with a lot of Emily's personal rebellion against the feminine restrictions of society and such, which is character-building, but seemed more of a distracting tangent. Even once it did get into the meat of the plot there wasn't a high level of excitement or overwhelming tension that makes a crime novel really successful. There is a gem, however, when Emily discovers the "game" Cordelia played with her late fiance and realizes that it is the means by which Mr. Dillman concealed the vital clue.

As far as Emily herself is concerned, she has become just a bit too perfect from a 21st Century view-point. She is a strong, intelligent woman who refuses to be confined by the period's standards for womanly behavior. She reads Greek and is learning Latin, and seems to be something of a Renaissance Woman. Her marriage is full of passion and trust, and both she and her husband are beautiful and highly respected. Her fortune is vast and her best friend practically worships her. She's just too wonderful. I understand that it is this combination which allows her to be such a success when it comes to solving crime, but it makes it hard for me to accept her as real.

I can't say that this was one of Alexander's best, but it is worth a read. The mystery itself is well thought out and comes together neatly.