Tears of PearlBook - 2009
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Once Lady Emily Ashton and now happily Mrs. Colin Hargreaves, this fourth novel featuring this independent, often rebellious and always clever Victorian woman takes us to Constantinople, still under the rule of a Sultan and his complicated political and familial relations. Even before they arrive in the great city, strange things begin to happen – their dining companion on the Orient Express recounts a sad tale, and nearly succumbs to a mysterious seizure. Upon arrival, they learn of the death of a young concubine with links to this same dining companion, and Emily is given the highly unusual – for a woman of the day – position of investigator for the British Crown: for the answer lies somewhere inside the Sultan’s harem of beautiful wives and concubines, to which no man would ever be allowed access. This employment does not entirely interfere with Emily and Colin’s honeymoon, and soon Emily begins to fear that her nausea is not entirely caused by seasickness. When she accidentally crosses the Sultan and is given a grave warning from the valide sultan, Bezime, about her future, Emily’s confidence wavers at a critical time in the investigation, causing tension between the happy couple. Feeling alone and afraid, Emily is buoyed by the sudden arrival of a dear friend, but puts her life at risk as she comes close to solving the murder, and in helping another young concubine escape the Sultan’s harem. This novel further develops Emily’s personality, and is written with light language that enriches the many other intriguing characters. With its exotic setting and relaxed pace even, the plot twists and red herrings keep you guessing until very near the end. No need to read the first three novels in the series, the author fills in the back-story in bits as she goes, and her attention to historical detail is wonderful.
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