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The Adventuress by Carole Nelson Douglas

The Adventuress

by Carole Nelson Douglas

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Irene Adler (2)

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270642,050 (3.72)16



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I really wanted to like this series, but the narrator is just too annoying to read any more right now. ( )
  liz.mabry | Sep 11, 2013 |
Rumored dead in a train accident, Irene Adler and her husband, Godfrey Norton, are alive and well and lying low in Paris. Irene is suffering from boredom since her “death” means the end of her opera career. She finds a new outlet for her creative energy in the unraveling of a mystery that spans several years and at least two countries. When Irene and her friend, Penelope Huxleigh, view the body of a drowned sailor recently pulled from the Seine they immediately notice similarities to the body of a drowned sailor they had viewed in England years earlier. Both men had unusual tattoos and were missing one finger. Irene and company encounter a missing girl, mysterious pursuers, a famous actress, the royal family of Monaco, rumors of hidden treasure, and the renowned Sherlock Holmes in their quest to solve the mystery.

Irene, Godfrey, and Penelope work well as an investigative team, with each contributing valuable skills and talents to the group effort. While Irene Adler's character is borrowed from one of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, the characters in Douglas's novel are strong enough to stand on their own. The competition between Irene and Sherlock Holmes to solve the mystery is a distraction rather than a help to the plot. Penelope compares favorably to Watson as a first-person narrator. Although she might miss some of the clues that Irene spots, she's not often very far behind, and she doesn't necessarily jump to the wrong conclusion. However, there were a few places where I felt like I had missed something because Penelope hadn't been present to describe an event as it happened.

This book will appeal to many fans of historical mysteries, particularly those with husband and wife investigators like Robin Paige's Sir Charles and Lady Kathryn Sheridan or Tasha Alexander's Colin Hargreaves and Lady Emily Ashton. However, Sherlock Holmes aficionados might be disappointed. ( )
  cbl_tn | Mar 2, 2012 |
Other reviewers have said it all. I find the series (this is the second book in the series) very much in keeping with the Holmes type of mystery. I like the way Holmes enters the story, but Irene remains the star. It's a series that I am going to stick with. ( )
  mysterymax | Oct 19, 2010 |
I have no idea why the title was changed in the most recent editions: Good Morning, Irene is far better (though I like the newer cover more.) I started with the second book in this series because it was the one my local library had. I suspect this is actually a series where not reading the first book really does interfere with your enjoyment. At the start of the second one, Irene Adler, her husband Godfrey, and Nell, the last member of the household, a young London typist who has been adopted by Irene and fills the chronicler role, are living in Paris, and they have come into a great deal of wealth, and Irene is allowing herself to be presumed dead for some reason, but does not seem particularly invested in keeping a low profile. I thought that would be all I needed to know, but the further I got in the book, the more it became clear that there were complications carrying over from the first book which it would have helped me to know about, but which I never quite got the picture of.

That aside, though, the book was fun. Irene is delicious, Irene's friends are delicious, Godfrey is wonderful; it took me awhile to warm to Nell, but I eventually did. The absolute best thing about this book (and, I hope, the whole series), is that it reverses the gender roles of the story, and does so deliberately. Not reversing gender roles in the world itself - it's still late Victorian Europe, and the women living in it are women who belong in that time - but reversing gender roles in the *story*, just by choosing to make it a story that's about women, and told through a lens in which women are the important people. Women are important, women's views are important, women's work and women's concerns and women's spaces are the important ones; women are powerful, and not just because the women Douglas chooses to write about are powerful women (though some of them are), but because she tells the story from a viewpoint where the power that women have is the important power: partly through Irene, who is determined that a woman can have any power a man does, but wield it better; partly through respectable Nell, who is determined that the power her society assigns to women is all the power anybody needs. Oh, there are male characters, but the important thing about the male characters is their relationships with the women - there's nothing inherently important about them as people.

And yet she does this, and does it intentionally, in a believable Victorian London without changing anything except the POV, with characters (male and female) who are entirely believable and likeable; and it's not a "woman's story" - it's not about romance, family, and household; it's a rollicking murder mystery and treasure hunt set among dangerous and far-flung lands.

Now on to the things I didn't like: the mystery itself never really grabbed my attention; it was certainly quite as baroque as any of Holmes' cases, but I think it's easier to sustain that level of ~mysterious happenings~ when you only have to do it for the length of a short story or novella; in a modern-length novel it gets to be a bit much. And so many of the important characters and events were introduced very late in the novel, so you have to sit through a long build-up and then everything happening at once. Once it did start happening, I was hooked, and everything came together neatly in the solution of the mystery, though the actual solution was one of those classic "let's get all the suspects in a room and explain the deductions" arrangements which just seemed deeply out of place in the story as it was - they can work when you're trying to bluff a confession, but in this one it wasn't all that necessary. Also, the portions that suddenly switch to Holmes POV, while it's nice to have the connection back to Holmes, are really jarringly abrupt, and I think on a re-read I would just skip them with very little loss to the story. (Plus: not enough Watson!) Also, while story manages (by dint of being set mostly in Monaco) to carry over Doyle's love of ~exotic foreign lands~ without ever having to directly address the imperialism of the period; but there is a minor character, a lascar, who manages to really not move very far past what Doyle was doing in his portrayal of "exotic" people from colonized nations. So, I mean, it's not openly horridly offensive, but it was a bit of a disappointment that she didn't do *better*.

Also, Irene's relationship with Nell is really - uncomfortable. That may be intentional, placing them in a rocky period in their friendship that gets explained and involved elsewhere in the series, but in this book as itself, Nell appears to be tagging along after Irene mostly out of a sense of obligation, and Irene appears to be treating her as a useful accessory without actually listening to her as a person. It's not badly done, and I do suspect it's getting set up to be resolved later in the series, but with Nell & Irene as the relationship that ought to be the backbone of the book, it suffuses everything with a not-fun kind of tension.

I did like the postscripts at the end, though, which made the ties with Holmes canon explicit while accounting for the ways in which Holmes canon was contradicted. (Including the continual barbs directed at Sherlock, who isn't nearly as smart as he thinks he is; poor dear, he can't help it, he's only a man.)

Verdict: Will not be reading out of order, but will be keeping my eye out for the first book in the series. ( )
1 vote melannen | Mar 22, 2010 |
This was fun as usual. The footnote at the end of the book is so clever as to almost make one believe that Sherlock Holmes was a real person. There are enough real figures in the book to make Irene seem real as well.

This was a good mystery with many layers and came to a good end. A bunch of people survived a shipwreck and landed on a small island where they found a great treasure. After they were rescued they were each tattooed with a piece of a map to the treasure. This was to legitimize their claim. After a while, members of the group are killed off by one individual bent on claiming the treasure for himself. It went in the past that if any member of the group died, their nearest relative would claim their spot and be tattooed. It’s this that happens to the tattooing of a young girl who then fakes her own death to escape her greedy uncle who wants the share for himself. Holmes is sent by the Paris police to investigate this. He never finds out about the larger picture though even when he and Irene meet face to face, without disguises for the first time. ( )
  Bookmarque | Jun 13, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Carole Nelson Douglasprimary authorall editionscalculated
Leishman, VirginiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tull, PatrickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Harriet McDougal, a tireless and passionate editor and advocate
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Sherlock Holmes stood by the window staring down at Baker Street, his left shirt cuff undone. (prologue)
The tragic and premature death of my friend Irene Adler was perhaps the most difficult circumstance of her life.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812509498, Mass Market Paperback)

In Paris with her husband, Godfrey Norton, and her friend, Penelope, Victorian opera star and amateur sleuth Irene Adler becomes involved in the case of a corspe that has washed up on the shores of the Seine. Reprint. NYT. PW.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:19 -0400)

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