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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

***** Another Scandal in Bohemia by Carole Nelson Douglas. Mystery. Re-read (was Irene's Last Waltz).

I know I've read this one before, but I honestly didn't remember anything about it. It's been a long time, and there've been a lot of books in the interim.

This is the 4th book in the Irene Adler series, based on the character from the Sherlock Holmes story "A Scandal in Bohemia." Irene, her husband Godfrey, and friend Nell are bored in Paris after their last case. Exiled from England and Irene from the stage because of their "deaths," they're unable to pursue their normal occupations, and Irene turns to shopping, getting a much-coveted appointment with the House of Worth, where she and Nell have three startling experiences: 1) Charles Worth himself asks Irene to be a living advertisement for his gowns; 2) the Queen of Bohemia, Irene's erstwhile rival, confides that her husband of several months has yet to visit her bed, and asks for help; 3) a bead-girl is found murdered in the Worth dress factory.

Godfrey, meanwhile, has had a request of his own, for the three of them to visit Baron Alphonse de Rothschild, the international financier, who offers each one of them the perfect price to return to Bohemia and spy for him.

Of course, when Irene and Nell left Bohemia, it was in fear for their lives, so the expedition is not without risk.

There's international intrigue, fashion, romantic entanglement, the supernatural in the form of the Golem (which made me think of Pratchett) that's reportedly menacing Prague, the position of Jews and working women in late 19th-century Europe, and an overlap with a Holmes case, which for the life of me I can't identify, and which may not actually exist.

It's complex and filled with realism, and the characters just grab me. Nell's relative innocence, honesty, and narrow-mindedness contrast well with Irene's worldliness and other-worldliness, and Godfrey's sincerity and pragmatism.


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Wasn't Feet of Clay just great? That's one of my favorites from TP.

This sounds interesting, but then, I'm game for anything with a golem. It's a cultural thing ;)
Oh, yes. Actually, though, I didn't realize the origins of the golem when I read Feet of Clay.

There's quite a bit of historical detail here, including the Rabbi Loew's grave in Prague. I suspect CND took quite a few liberties with it, though.
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