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Monday, October 09, 2006

****½ Castle Rouge by Carole Nelson Douglas. Mystery.

This is the second half of the story begun in Chapel Noir, and I liked it both more and less than part one.

Of necessity, this contains some details that are mild spoilers for Chapel Noir, so if you're a spoiler-purist, read no further. And while you're at it, read about Chapel Noir so I don't have to repeat the series background.

Castle Rouge begins with both Nell and Godfrey both missing, and Irene joining forces with a reluctant Pink to find them and capture Jack the Ripper, who's apparently resurfaced in Paris. Reports of the renewed appearance of the Golem (from Another Scandal in Bohemia) in Prague, where Godfrey was last seen, make them think he's been there as well.

By this second volume, I was used to, and even enjoyed, the chapters from Pink's POV. She's just as unreliable a narrator as Nell, but her biases are different, and her voice is hers alone. This book also has a fourth first-person narrator in Dr. Watson, who's back in London with Sherlock Holmes, investigating Jack the Ripper from that direction. I'm still not convinced, however, that the chapters from the Yellow Journal POV were necessary. Even though I was more used to the POV switches and the different voices in this second book, there were just too many of them. And I rarely like getting an anonymous villain's POV. I'm not sure why. I'll have to think about that.

Much time was spent on the patterns the attacks made on the maps of London, Paris, and Prague--so much so that I got bored with it. Although I enjoy the mental puzzle aspect of a physical pattern to the killings, it didn't make sense. It's explained later, but the explanation raised other slight objections, and I had trouble buying the ultimate villain's motive.

However, the characters were, as always, stellar, the atmosphere intense, and the suspense dramatic. I won't be forgetting about this series again.


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