Murder on Cold Street
by Sherry Thomas
I’ve been putting off writing this review for almost two weeks now. This is the first Sherry Thomas book that I haven’t given five stars to, and it actually pains me a little.
For anyone who absolutely adores an author, like, truly thinks they’re a master of their craft and has all the confidence in the world that their work will stand the test of time, and then you read something from them you don’t love, you know how I feel right now.
I did not love this installment of the Lady Sherlock series. Seeing as how this is my favorite ongoing series, these three stars are a pretty big disappointment.
A lot of other readers criticized the first book in this series as being too slow. In fact, that’s the chief complaint I’ve seen of any installment. I have never felt that way about any of these books. I have a long attention span and am a self-confessed history nerd, so where some people were put off by the minutiae of 19th century London, I was drawn in by it.
This book was too slow, even for me.
There’s no easy way to say it: the pacing is damn near glacial. Every microscopic aspect of the case is examined in frustratingly close detail. Even ones that felt extraneous or unimportant. Even ones that were extraneous or unimportant.
All of the witnesses are lying, so they’re interviewed, interrogated, and then interviewed again, dragged toward the truth haltingly by Holmes and her companions.
I think part of the issue is the person that Holmes is trying to prove innocent is a completely unsympathetic side character. I was sort of glad to see him moldering in a jail cell.
There is also very little movement on any of the overarching plots within the book. The two love affairs I most looked forward to reading about felt stagnated. The big bad villain of the previous books was barely mentioned until the very end, and even then, it felt a bit rushed. And the fate of a rather important side character who fell into peril in the last book is totally excluded.
Where is he? How is he?
All in all, this felt like a layover.
Like a pause in the story of Charlotte Holmes and her companions. And I think that has something to do with the momentum built in the previous installments. In those, you know the characters are drawing closer and closer to something dangerous. Something that not even Charlotte’s genius might see them safely through.
There was action, danger. Several times throughout I read at breakneck speed, terrified that something was about to happen to one of my beloved characters.
This book fell flat compared to them. Between the slow pacing and the utter lack of any sort of tension, I was bored while reading most of it.
One last thing I need to mention is that the ARC we received of this was not in great shape, editing wise. Whole paragraphs were incorrectly italicized. Words were missing. Shifts in perspective weren’t properly marked.
I’m chalking it up to Covid. I’ve seen more of these issues from big publishing houses in the past few months than ever before, and I really hope they’re fixed in the finished copies.
So, no, I didn’t love this book. But I still love Sherry Thomas. I still believe in her wholeheartedly, and I am still going to be desperate for the next book in the series to be released.