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“Spider Dance ”

Written on: 12/10/2004 by Harriet Klausner (18637 reviews written)

Spider Dance

Carole Nelson Douglas

Forge, Dec 2004, $24.95, 384 pp.

ISBN: 0765306832

In August 1889 at the Green-wood cemetery in Brooklyn, Irene Adler Norton and her companion Nell Huxleigh look at the gravesite that might be the last resting place of the former's mother. Out of nowhere, Sherlock Holmes appears and directs them to the grave of Eliza Gilbert. Both females assume that Gilbert is most likely Irene's biological mother who gave her up at birth. Further research reveals that Gilbert was Lola Montez, an adventuress who was a mistress of King Ludwig of Bavaria.

With a dead man found on his table, Willie Vanderbilt hires Holmes to investigate who killed the man, who is sending him threatening letters involving gold and jewels, and what is the link between the two. Irene recognizes the corpse as the priest who was giving Lola comfort when she was dying. As their cases interconnect, Holmes finds himself with a new partner, whom he admires for her intelligence, until Irene abruptly vanishes with Vanderbilt's child Consuelo.

Carole Nelson Douglas has written a fantastic historical mystery showcasing the only person to ever outwit the great Holmes, who plays a key supportive role. Told in rotating first person narratives, readers know what thoughts are going through the minds of the protagonists which in turn enable the audience to fully follow the two separate inquiries and know what the intersection means before the two great sleuths do. SPIDER DANCE is an excellent work that emphasizes great detective work with a backdrop of the wealthy in the Gilded Age of Manhattan.

Harriet Klausner

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