25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
After a violent attack on her honeymoon in Constantinople, Lady Emily Hargreaves repairs to the estate of her mother-in-law in Normandy, France, for a period of convalescence. Unfortunately, the other Mrs. Hargreaves does not warm to her son's new wife and Lady Emily must make do with her husband's ready affections. The problem of her hostess's welcome pales in comparison to the shock of a mutilated body Emily discovers on an afternoon ride, the body identified as the daughter of an aristocratic family in Rouen, recently escaped from an asylum. Edith Prier is the black sheep of the Prier's, her slide into madness a shame the family is unwilling to acknowledge. Having lost a child in her brush with death in Constantinople, Lady Emily quickly becomes invested in finding the girl's murderer, collaborating with her new husband, Colin, an agent for the empire.
Since the couple has solved a number of crimes together, Emily has no reason to expect otherwise in this case. But Alexander dashes her plucky heroine's hopes with a serious conflict between husband and wife, Colin asserting his duty to protect his wife from harm. The phrase "I will not allow" causes much discord between the newlyweds, Lady Emily of course unable to stem her naturally inquisitive nature, danger or not. There is madness afoot: in the haunting cries of a child heard in the night; in Edith's unsuitable affair and tragic fate; in the mind of a neighbor's wife, who vacillates between hilarity and lapses of memory; and in the blade of a killer's bloody knife that leaves two victims in its wake.
Alexander's characters are suitably Victorian: the frosty mother-in-law; the cautious Colin, torn between duty and passion; the return of Sebastian Capet, itinerant thief and admirer of Lady Emily; a passing acquaintance with Monet, Sisley and Renoir; a brooding brother who seeks vengeance for his sister; even hints of Jack the Ripper's arrival in the French countryside as the Normandy Ripper. Wherever Lady Emily goes, adventure is sure to follow. It is hard not to compare this series with Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey series, another husband and wife investigative duet, each pair enjoying their particularities and rebellious personalities, Raybourn's Brisbane perhaps more authentically Heathcliffian, but Alexander's Lady Emily not as impulsively dramatic as Lady Julia, her reasoning sharper as any man's and not dependent on one to save her. In the end, it is a toss up, plenty or room for both authors and the fans that enjoy their Victorian thrillers. Luan Gaines/2010.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2010
I have to begin by saying that historical mystery/romance fiction is not really my genre of choice (I grew up mainly on science-fiction and a little bit of fantasy). I started reading Alexander's work by way of recommendation from a friend as something to fill the time on a trans-atlantic flight, and I'm now extremely grateful to that friend for it. Once returned from that trip I tore through the rest of her work until I caught up with Lady Emily's story, and found it hard to be patient until the next work was published.
Dangerous to Know was worth all the waiting. Alexander mixes plotlines masterfully, capturing both the mind and the heart of the reader. I don't think I can do justice in praise to how she brings her characters to life, and the way she keeps you guessing right to the very end. Not to mention that the research she puts into the historical accuracy of even the smallest details is terribly impressive. I _can_ tell you I'm already finding it hard to wait patiently for the next, but I'll be filling the time in re-reading the series to my wife - a delightful way to spend an evening.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2010
The lush landscapes of Normandy are the setting for this, the fifth and arguably most mature and complex of the Lady Emily series. It is a uniquely skilled writer who can so convincingly and accurately portray such diverse settings, but Alexander manages to do that once again in Dangerous to Know. A taut plot, rich character development, and easy-reading style push this book along in the most entertaining way. It's like Halloween candy for readers, yet it also delves into the core of human experience with terrific insight. Not to miss for any fan of good writing generally or historical fiction in particular.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2010
Though Ms. Alexander's ability to spin a tale remains undiminished - I must say I found her latest Lady Emily mystery deeply disappointing. 'Dangerous to Know' focuses on both murder and marriage - the latter (Lady Emily's) in many ways the more important focus of the book. Colin, it seems, has reverted to type - 19th century type, to be precise. He's decided to limit his wifes participation in his/her work - something not at all out of the ordinary for the times. And in keeping with those times, his wifes obvious pain and disillusionment means little. The husband has spoken - so thus mote it be. And like any good 19th century wife - Emily's options are limited (as in 'none'). She has to find a way to live with it. That's how 'real life' marriage was. So Lady Emily's unhappiness become the readers unhappiness - and therein lies my overall objection.
I found it difficult to finish the book. I read the Lady Emily series for the fun of it. Emily's character has evolved beautifully (and intriguingly) - discovering who she was and want she was capable of. I found her independence one of her most attractive qualities. To now watch such a bright light dimmed (in keeping with correct 19th century mores or not) disappoints me no end. Putting it frankly.....from my point of view there's precious little reason to keep reading the series. I just cannot get invested in what the title character is doing only to read of her pain when her 'loving' husband steps in and packs her off - all the while enjoying the fruits of her (to that point) endeavors. Because of course he plans on making use of her abilities. She's just to be denied satisfaction of the denouement (at his discretion). That's like sex without the orgasm. All thats left is frustration.
So I rather doubt I'll be standing in line for the next installment. Rather, I'll read the reviews.......see if future books plan to focus on Emily as doormat, womens rights proponent, or exemplary solver of mysteries. The former are fine directions, don't get me wrong. They're just not something I'm interested in when it comes to this genre. I'm here for the mystery (and ensuing mayhem). I also like reading about characters that engage and don't continually disappoint. I literally had to put the book down several times - forcing myself to finish it. And that's no way to read a book. As for the last few pages and Colin's 'see the light' moment? Unconvincing. Way too 'Deus Ex Machina' for me. Especially considering all that had gone before. If true, then Ms. Alexander wasted far too many pages leading us down the garden path.
So it's three out of five stars for me, folks. Bottom line....well written, yes; just deeply unsatisfying at the end.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2010
Beautiful, headstrong and romantic Lady Emily is back. A Victorian woman with modern-day attitudes, Emily Hargreaves has proven herself a worthy crime solver alongside her handsome husband, Colin. She proves her mettle once again in Tasha Alexander's new novel.
Lady Emily's latest escapade begins as she is taking an afternoon ride astride her horse around her mother-in-law's estate in the Normandy countryside. Ostensibly in France to recuperate from a gunshot wound, Emily is also trying to work through her grief over losing their unborn child, a tragedy that did little to endear her to her mother-in-law. While Mrs. Hargreaves may have opened her home to her son and his wife, she shows no attempt to hide her disapproval of the young woman.
It would seem likely that Emily's recovery might be further hindered when she happens upon the bloodied body of Edith Prier, obviously the victim of a violent murder. Instead, it immediately stimulates Emily's desire --- to solve the mystery, to find justice for the unfortunate woman, to catch a despicable killer. And if it means working with her husband in that desire, so much the better.
Following protocol, they summon the authorities, but the investigation falls far short of thorough. Are the police being purposely lax because the victim was a woman who escaped from an asylum? What other explanation could there be, unless it is outright incompetence?
Colin and Emily have their own methods for solving murders. They start off by interviewing the neighbors, George and Madeline, whose home is quite near to the crime scene. The couple claims to have seen nothing, except possibly a child whom Madeline has caught a glimpse of on occasion. That revelation raises eyebrows. In truth, Lady Emily fears for the poor woman's sanity. That is, until she hears a girl crying outside her window.
Soon, the discovery that Sebastian Capet, a supremely charming art thief, was in the area at the time of the murder, leads the authorities to put him at the top of their suspect list. As Emily is well acquainted with Monsieur Capet, she scoffs at the idea of him as the murderer. He might be a romantic cad with a penchant for lifting valuable paintings, but that is only his way of making sure the art finds its way to a home where it will be appreciated. Monet is unimpressed by Capet's argument.
The thread of madness runs through the story, as our sleuths try to separate the truth from the imagined. And family secrets make their job more difficult yet, as do lying witnesses. It seems that everyone has something to hide. Even Lady Emily.
Tasha Alexander's clever dialogue, along with her convincing period detail, brings life to her story and showcases the breathtaking beauty of the Normandy countryside. Considering its incomparable setting and irresistible characters, Lady Emily's fan club is sure to grow by leaps and bounds with DANGEROUS TO KNOW.
--- Reviewed by Kate Ayers
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2013
I loved the first books in this series and was looking forward to this one. But it really disappoints. After Emily almost loses her life in Constantinople, Emily and Colin go to France so that she can recover and meet his mother. And Colin, who previously appreciated and used Emily's help in his own cases, and who helped her with hers, suddenly goes all 19th century and forbids her from participating in any more dangerous cases. Of course he couches it as wanting to protect her. And I can see that the author might have been trying to rein in Colin's previously progressive behavior. But she created him as a believable character before, and this about face comes as a shock to the reader and to Emily. And Emily isn't even allowed to express her shock. Instead, we have Colin saying things like "I won't have you wallowing" and "I will be obeyed." And instead of confronting him with the fact that he promised not to do that before they were married, Emily complies, realizing that his love is the most important thing "Even when protection meant curbing my freedom." This, despite the fact that Colin tells her he'd give up anything for her, but refuses to give up HIS dangerous job when she asks him to. The first books were about Emily's dilemma in trying to decide whether choosing love with Colin would mean giving up her freedom. And the author demonstrates, possibly without intending to, that it did.
At the end, Colin decides that it's no use trying to control Emily. But it's not because he realizes that he had no right to do so, or because he had previously promised not to inhibit her, or because he realized that she could take care of herself. It was only because she got into more danger obeying him than she would have, otherwise.
I made myself finish this book, but the author has changed her characters and their relationship into things that no longer hold my interest. I won't be reading any more of this series.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
In 1892, Lady Emily Hargreaves heals at her husband Colin's family estate near Rouen in Normandy from her harrowing time trapped in a cavernous cistern underneath Constantinople (see Tears of Pearl). Her emotional recovery is somewhat thwarted by her formidable mother-in-law Anne, who lucidly yet tacitly insures Emily knows she disapproves of her honeymoon behavior and what soon happens at the estate.
Emily is riding a horse when she finds a mutilated female body. The police are called and Inspector Gaudet leads the inquiry though Emily believes he is incompetent. She later learns the butchered victim is an escaped inmate from a nearby insane asylum and that the knife wounds suggest Jack the Ripper left London for France. Unable to ignore what she saw, Emily investigates but fears for her mind as she keeps hearing a child's voice but none seem nearby,
Dangerous to Know is a pleasant late Victorian Era whodunit though readers will doubt the company of the inspector and the amateur sleuth. The relationship between Emily and Anne enhances the story line as does the French countryside and the trek into Rouen. Although the detecting never comes across as strong as Emily's' efforts before she married (see A Poisoned Season and Only to deceives), fans will enjoy this entertaining historical.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I've enjoyed watching Ms. Alexander's writing grow progressively stronger as the books have gone by. The more that Lady Emily's branched out in Europe in her adventures, the writing has become more gripping and Lady Emily more complex. That's what I like in a novel - a sense of evolution with the characters.
While recovering in Normandy from her less than picturesque honeymoon, Lady Emily stumbles upon a mutilated body of a daughter of an aristocratic family and feels more driven to solve the murder, presumably because of the loss of her own child (or at least the desire to get out of the house because of the inhospitable atmosphere caused by Colin's mother.)
There are areas to nitpick, but they're minor issues. I kept waiting for Lady Emily to punch her mother-in-law because she's a first rate jerk, but that wouldn't be Lady Emily's style (sadly.) I'm also slowly warming to Colin, who has gone from beta male to more assertive as the books come along. To me, that's important - I want to see character development and enjoy the characters. As a reader, I can forgive minor issues with the plot and story as long as I'm having fun with the characters in any novel.
A lot of people in this genre make the comparison between Alexander and Deanna Raybourn. Some of it's fair, some of it isn't. The two protagonists are drastically different: one's an original and one's an inferior copy. As a reader, I want a strong character like Lady Emily and not a damsel in distress.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
In "Dangerous to Know," the irrepressible Victorian sleuth, Lady Emily and her dashing husband, Colin, are back, solving yet another murder. While convalescing at her mother-in-law's home in Normandy, Lady Emily discovered a corpse almost literally at her feet during a therapeutic ride. The story launches from there, complete with a disappearing (or dead?) child, a neighbor with fragile sanity, a brooding brother and everyone's favorite glamorous art thief. Oh, and the elegant, soignee, Cecile is back as well.
The mystery is fast-paced with just enough twists and turns to be believable. I also thought that the conflicts were completely believable. Lady Emily doesn't get along with her mother-in-law, she hasn't really recovered from losing her baby AND she isn't sure she even wants children at all, which is refreshingly transparent. However, midway through the book, Colin evidently decides that this equality thing is all very well, but he has a duty to protect Emily, even from herself. He proceeds to revert to a stereotypical thick-brained, doltish, controlling Victorian husband. Watching Emily try to reconcile this insufferable boor with the man she thought she had married was incredibly painful - not just once, but many times. Plus, it was just plain stupid, as that attitude actually PUT her in danger.
I realize that this was a much more realistic depiction of an actual Victorian marriage than their previous relationship. However, I read fiction to escape reality, and imagine things that never were. If I want to read about a time when women had no rights, I can pick up a volume of history. I will be watching the reviews of subsequent volumes closely. If this conflict is going to be central going forward, these books will go off of my "must read" list.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2011
I finished the book last night, and find myself conflicted.
There's something so enticing about mystery, period pieces, history, and strong heroines combined into one series. I do like Alexander's series for an enjoyable departure from the norm, and the books are a fun read. I do encourage other readers to read through the series (in order), as the other books are much better. This one, however, I won't be revisiting.
Lady Emily is a wonderfully independent and modern lady, and her light was entirely snuffed out in this book. She's recovering from losing her child and a missed appointment with the Grim Reaper, but as another reviewer noted, she spends most of the novel wallowing in self-pity. It's not improbable that she'd be grieving and dealing with emotional turmoil throughout this novel, but Alexander takes it to an extreme. And most disappointing of all, Colin does an about-face and dominates her, forbidding her from the final phases of solving cases to "protect her." This plot point could have been addressed more deftly and in a different manner, and frankly, Alexander bungled it. She takes the tragedies that Emily and Colin are dealing with, and writes her characters' actions in such a way that the departure from their personalities makes them unrecognizable and unbelievable.
A piece of praise that I can give for this book is that it definitely keeps you guessing. I understand that Alexander was trying to keep the readers guessing who the murderer is, but she adds far too many unnecessary characters and plot points. It completely weighed the novel down. When you do discover the identity of the murderer, it's baffling (which, in a mystery novel, can definitely be a good thing). The final action is very rushed, and the ending isn't tied up nearly as well as it was in her other books. She also left at least three glaring plot holes, which I found disappointing.
I'm not sure what Alexander intended for this novel to be, as Lady Emily isn't herself even at the end of the book. Neither is Colin. In my humble opinion, it was a retelling of "Taming of the Shrew," Victorian style.