Cover Image: The Art of Theft

The Art of Theft

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Another great installment of The Charlotte Holmes mysteries! Sherry Thomas is an excellent writer who always manages to update the original source material in a new an inventive way with every book!
Was this review helpful?
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele

The Art of Theft, the fourth smart entry in the superb Lady Sherlock Mystery Series, is a full on swashbuckling art heist tale featuring all of the characters readers have grown to love and plenty of intrigue and danger.  Mrs. Watson’s old friend is being blackmailed and implores Charlotte to retrieve damning evidence hidden within a Van Dyck painting before it falls into the wrong hands.  Time is of the essence, and, of course, all is not as it seems, but it requires everyone working together to pull the whole thing off.  

Charlotte is as clever and Lord Ingram as restrained as ever in this adventure.  After the events of the previous book, The Hollow of Fear, I should know better than to hope that this pair would progress smoothly.  But, alas, things are ever complicated with these two, and they appear to have taken several steps back. However, their chemistry is still deliciously palpable.  It is wonderful to see the prickly, eccentric Charlotte accept and acknowledge help from her friends and to see other, already well drawn, characters continue to grow and become more involved in Charlotte’s escapades.  The introduction of the Maharani brings a bit of diversity and another perspective to this wonderful series.

The Art of Theft is a bit of a departure from the prior books in the series.  Author Thomas moves the action from London to France.  The art heist theme is not as enthralling as previous books, but it is still highly entertaining.  Though the book is ultimately about the complicated relationships between the characters and the constraints put on women during the Victorian Era, this outing feels more about the action, and I find it slightly restricting.

I continue to adore this gender bending take on the larger-than-life Sherlock Holmes.  Thomas’s writing remains brilliant and true to the era, this tale overflowing with a never ending litany of twists and turns.  I impatiently wait for Charlotte and company’s next adventure.  I do suggest reading this series in order as each book builds on the last with a series long story arc.  Highly, highly recommended!
Was this review helpful?
Fourth in the Lady Sherlock series, THE ART OF THEFT by Sherry Thomas is an enthralling mystery that takes Charlotte Holmes on an art heist! Always up for a new challenge, Charlotte is willing to travel with her family and friends to help her on this quest to steal a priceless painting. Mrs. Watson has always been an intriguing character, and learning about her impassioned and heartbreaking relationship with the maharani added more depth and nuance to her, and showed how much she has come to care for and admire Charlotte and everyone working on the case.
Was this review helpful?
I've already read The Art of Theft last year, but I thought I should reread it before reading the newly released sequel. 

I love and adore Lady Sherlock series. Charlotte is one of my favorite heroines; and the unresolved romance between her and Lord Ingram is also another favorite of mine. This is why, this rating is lower than the three previous books. Besides from the lack of romance content, I wasn't really keen on the plot. I'm hoping the next installment will be better.

Sherry Thomas featured in our website here:
Was this review helpful?
Has Lady Sherlock jumped the shark? If that sentence means nothing to you, you’re obviously not a fan of the Sherry Thomas mystery series that reimagines Sherlock Holmes as a neuroatypical “fallen woman” who solves crimes with the help of her widowed landlady, Mrs. Watson, a retired actress. Holmes mash-ups are nothing new, but gender-flipping the character while leaving the late-Victorian setting untouched pays dividends in the #MeToo era. Our heroine, Charlotte Holmes, uses a mythical male “consulting detective” as a socially acceptable front for her unladylike crime-solving skills—a premise that allows readers access to the distaff side of Arthur Conan Doyle’s London, where even wealthy women are second-class citizens: denied of basic rights; entirely dependent on their husbands or fathers; and precariously vulnerable to blackmailers, bounders, and fortune hunters.

With its contemporary gender politics against a background of lush historical scene-setting and twisty puzzles the original Holmes might have described as “three-pipe problems,” the series has resonated with readers. The contrast between Charlotte’s brilliant, autistic mind and her awkward emotional naiveté remains compelling. But if you’re not already reading it, you might as well stop reading this right now, because the fourth installment in the series, The Art of Theft, is strictly for (Lady) Sherlockians. Go back to 2016’s A Study in Scarlet Women and proceed from there.

Unfortunately, even fans (among whom I count myself) may have trouble navigating this book’s Byzantine plot and bloated cast of characters. There’s a maharani, a secluded château, a masquerade ball, AND a mysterious Van Dyck painting. I love an art heist; disappointingly, the planned art heist at the center of the narrative turns out to be a red herring, quickly and confusingly discarded. Charlotte is, as always, three steps ahead of the reader (and everyone else in the vicinity), but here her astonishing deductions seem like contrivances designed to leapfrog through an overstuffed narrative.

Ultimately, its own logistics bog down this carefully engineered mystery, heavily indebted to Ocean’s 11. Charlotte spends much of The Art Of Theft hopping back and forth from London to Paris accompanied by a large and incestuous entourage, all toting their own emotional baggage. Thomas, who was an acclaimed romance novelist before branching into historical and young adult fiction, knows how to stoke sexual tension. But the central love story—after attaining a delicious peak in The Hollow of Fear–stalls out here, taking a backseat to the relationships of secondary characters, who multiply with each book. The gymnastics of keeping up the Sherlock ruse is beginning to strain readers’ credulity, and the evil machinations of the Moriarty crime family grow increasingly banal. Even Arthur Conan Doyle realized that a successful formula occasionally needs a splashy, standalone reboot. Where’s a gigantic hound when you need one?
Was this review helpful?
Catching up on backlist reviews.  I read this on publication day a year ago - I LOVED this book and can't wait to read and review the next book!

This is book 4 in the Lady Sherlock series and is definitely not a standalone. That being said, I highly recommend this historical mystery series. I’ll admit that there are a lot of characters that you need to learn in book 1, but once you’re in, I think you’ll fall in love with them! Plus, you’ll want to root for Charlotte and Lord Ingraham alongside me!
These novels are clever and have just the right touch of romance. It’s so fun to follow along and then realize you really knew nothing, similar to Agatha Christie’s Poirot, but without the annoying sidekick and with a kickass female lead.
Was this review helpful?
I really likd the plot of this book, it was interesting and was able to keep me there reading for long periods of time. I would love to keep reading more of this story, mainly what I am saying is I want more and would love to have it. All in all this book was a good read it was entertaining and the characters were interesting.
Was this review helpful?
Compared to the other installments, particularly the prior one which hit high notes both plot and character-wise, The Art of Theft feels like a bridge book in plot lines. The pace is a bit slow, and there's not as much development as I want, particularly with the plot also being rather underwhelming.

However, I enjoy this cast quite a bit. Sherry Thomas' writing is always good, and the constant snark between the characters is a consistent delight. I will forever wish they were more romantic (think Veronica Speedwell), especially given the fact that Thomas began as a romance author, but I do think they're rather good.

This installment is the weakest thus far, but it's certainly not enough to put me off the series. The limited plot here does line things up for a much more intense subsequent volume, and I'm curious to see things play out.
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars

This is the third book in the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas.

Every book gives you a great glimpse into Charlotte’s character and fashion sense. I would actually like to see these dresses she wears since it seems so uncommon for the times. I am not sure I mentioned previously but each book starts off where the last book left off. It is like a continuing saga with a moment by moment play by play.

In this story the lady who comes for Sherlock’s services figures out there is no man behind the curtain and decides not to use their services since a woman was behind it all. Turns out this Indian Queen is very familiar with Mrs. Watson. And Watson wants to help this lady so much she elicits the help of everyone in her quest.

For those who are not as open-minded about same sex pairings, you might not want to par take in this book since there is quite a lot of it here. Apparently, it wasn’t uncommon for the times… it just wasn’t spoken of. The entire masquerade at the Yuletide Ball was quite an eye opening affair for all of the characters.

We learn a whole lot about the cast as the mystery unfolds. The mystery is stellar, as it always is in books like this. And the characters are very fun to watch and follow along with. I am not sure if I am in Team Marry Him Already or Team Alone where Charlotte and Lord Ingram’s relationship is concerned. I love having him in the cast and assisting with the solving of the mystery but I am not sure what would happen should they finally get together. I wouldn’t want that dratted Moonlighting moment where them getting together ruins the entire series.

This story is awesome and I love the adventure and whodunit as much as the cast and character building. Definitely give this series a go!

If you like cozy mysteries, definitely check this one out. You won’t be disappointed.

I received this as an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) in return for an honest review. I thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read this title.
Was this review helpful?
I love this series so much! I usually tear through each book in about two days. This new mystery was a departure from the earlier ones, in that it was more of a heist, which I loved. I liked seeing all of the main characters working together, and I loved the gentle, slow ramp-up of the romance between Charlotte and Lord Ingram and Olivia and Mr. Marbleton. Can't wait to read new installments!
Was this review helpful?
Another great entry to a strong series. Thomas continues to write a strong and compelling mystery that cheekily plays with, and updates,  the Sherlock lore and world without ever being constrained by it.
Was this review helpful?
I've had this book for what feels like forever! I'm surprised I waited this long to read The Art of Theft after how much I loved the first three Lady Sherlock books. I believe I called them my "My Brand New Obsession". With the 5th book coming out later this year, I decided it was finally time I took a plunge back into Charlotte Holmes' and her team's lives again. When I say this series is brilliant, I truly do mean it!

Though Charlotte was still a major character in The Art of Theft, I thought that her character development took a step back here. Instead, the focus is on some of the secondary characters such as Mrs. Watson, Livia, and Mr. Marbleton. While I do love Charlotte with all of my heart, I found that getting to know the secondary characters was an equally enjoyable experience as being inside Charlotte's head. The Art of Theft gives us insight into Mrs. Watson's past and I have to say, it was all so fascinating. Who knew that Mrs. Watson had a romantic dalliance with a maharani in her younger days! 

When the maharani seeks Mrs. Watson's help in stealing a pricey and famous painting at an exclusive art auction at a Chateau in France, Charlotte and her friends come together for Mrs. Watson's sake although this way outside their scope of detective work. I loved that the mystery in this book involved all the characters coming together to basically plan what is a heist. We got to see how they all worked together as a team and their dynamics with each other. As with the other books, Charlotte and co soon find out that the case is much more convoluted than they originally realized. While I wasn't as invested in this mystery this time around, I still admired how clever Sherry Thomas was with its execution. There's no doubt in my mind that she is absolutely the most brilliant and I can't see any other author who can do this series justice. 

Livia also gets her chance to shine in The Art of Theft. She's someone I've always found endearing and I grew to love her even more here. Her relationship with Mr. Marbleton is genuinely one of the sweetest and most mutually caring romantic relationships I've read about but it's rife with the complications of Mr. Marbleton's identity. Livia finally finds the courage to finish the book she is writing in this installment and I foresee a lot more growth from her in the subsequent installments of this series. 

If you've read my reviews for the previous books, you know that one of my favorites parts of the Lady Sherlock series is the romance between Charlotte and her friend. It's very much of a slow-burn romance, but the romantic tension has been making it 100% worth the while. I'll be honest, after what happened in the last book, I thought for sure we'd see more progression in their relationship here. I guess Sherry Thomas isn't done torturing us though. *cries* Anyways, I did like that we begin to see Charlotte reflect about her relationship with him a lot more here which makes me think we're definitely going to see something happen very soon (PLEASE SHERRY THOMAS). As always, he is PINING for Charlotte in his own way while respecting her boundaries. God, do I love that man and as I've said repeatedly, I'm ready for them to take all that tension and fire between them to the sheets!

If you haven't tried this series yet, please join me in my suffering of waiting for my ship to sail! Plus, these books are some of the most brilliant mystery stories I've read and The Art of Theft was no different.
Was this review helpful?
I'm an impatient romance reader at heart so I was frustrated with the romantic angle a bit but aside from that I loved this one.
Was this review helpful?
The Art of Theft
The Lady Sherlock Series #4
Sherry Thomas
Berkley, October 2019
ISBN 978-0-451-49247-0
Trade Paperback

Once upon a time, Sherry Thomas created the first of a retelling of the Sherlock Holmes adventures and, my word, what a charming series this is so far. Charlotte Holmes and Mrs. Watson are a delightful pair and they channel the original Holmes and Watson with a feminine aplomb that makes Sherlock himself much more accessible.

Charlotte is a successful detective, having solved numerous cases, but she’s going to have to become something of an art thief this time. The target is a particular very valuable painting but it’s the documents secreted on the back of the painting that she needs to obtain; if she can’t do so, her client will be ruined. Charlotte recruits her usual partners in crime, so to speak, and the merry band sets off to attend a masked ball and art sale at a certain chateau in France. Charlotte is the true brains of the group but she couldn’t pull this off without the able assistance of Stephen Marbleton and Lord Ingram, not to mention her sister, Livia, and the pragmatic Mrs. Watson.

There’s a great deal of fun to be had in this latest tale but the reader who’s new to the series should probably start with the first book, A Study in Scarlet Women, to enjoy the books to the fullest. If you’re like me, you’ll fall head over heels for Charlotte and company.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2020.
Was this review helpful?
I wish I had liked this book better.  It was fine, but it strays a bit too far from a Sherlock book and into a heist book for me.  Ordinarily I like a heist book just fine, but the mix of heist-plus-Sherlocking went down like a swirl of peanut butter in a grilled cheese sandwich.  I like both of those things, but together? It just didn’t feel right.  

In addition to having certain heist elements that usually bug me (most notably, the Ocean’s Eleven “our hero had a plan for this all along, we just didn’t show the audience”), there are also interludes with Lieutenant Attwood, an “associate” of Ash’s from his spying days.  The interactions with Attwood feel a bit like a backdoor pilot on your favorite tv show. While he and Charlotte are doing some spying, he makes a vague reference to a deadly female of his acquaintance.  Yes, I would absolutely love to read a spy assassin book… but again, there’s a bit too much going on here.  I hope we see Attwood in his own series in the future… but I’d rather like my detective book to go back to being a detective book. 
None of this will prevent me from reading the next book—the end of this book jumps right into the premise of book 6, where Inspector Treadles has apparently been charged with murder. Hopefully it will be a swift return to form!
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely adore the Lady Sherlock series from Sherry Thomas. The Art of Theft is the latest release in the series, and it was every bit as wonderful as I was expecting. I love spending time with this cast of characters, and love even more it grew a bit with this installment. As The Art of Theft picks up where the last installment left off, it is best to read the books in this series in order.

I love the way Charlotte's mind works. I'm always at least 3 steps behind her in figuring out what is going on in every single book. Ms. Thomas has written a character with such depth in Charlotte, that she keeps me guessing with each new installment. I have to say I did love learning more about Mrs. Watson's past along the way in this book. She seems to reveal just a bit more about her past to Charlotte with every book. The fact that Charlotte's sister Livia is the one telling each new tale to the readers have me loving her more with each new book. She is much quieter than Charlotte in every way, yet I feel like she is starting to come into her own the more time she spends with Charlotte and Mrs. Watson. I absolutely adored the time with Lord Ingram (Ash) and continue to want Charlotte and Ash to be more. 

There were so many twists and turns in The Art of Theft I was even more off my game in figuring out the mystery than I normally am with this series, and I absolutely loved it kept me guessing. I find myself loving this series more and more with each new installment. The Lady Sherlock series has become one of my favorite series in the historical mystery genre and I anxiously await each new installment.

Rating: 4 Stars (B+)
Review copy provided by publisher
Was this review helpful?
SherryThomas’s Holmes series is just fantastic. Clever, complex, beautiful world building and character development. Gently explores feminist ideas through a historical period. The mysteries are great too but it’s the characters that make her books shine. Art of the Theft gives us more excellent character development. I can’t get enough of these characters. They are so real.
Was this review helpful?
Charlotte Holmes is blond, pretty, very feminine and frilly, too fond of sweets, and far too intelligent for the time period. Essentially the opposite of what the traditional image is of Sherlock.  Lord Ingram Ashburton, a long time friend who cares very deeply for her even if she doesn't return his feelings will assist Charlotte no matter what.  Mrs. John Watson, a retired stage actress who has become Charlotte's unique and talented sidekick is the reason Holmes takes up this cause. Charlotte's adult younger sister, Olivia, has escaped the controlling grasp of her parents for a few weeks and follows Charlotte into the scheme.  Plus, she will get some time with Mr. Marbleton who she is quite fond of.  Stephen Marbleton is in hiding from the dangerous Moriarity and takes part at great peril.

The setting is both London and the remote French country side surrounding the French chateau where the exclusive auction will take place.  The French location is wonderfully atmospheric and presents its own challenges to the heist, giving the story added stakes.

The series has exciting killer/villain reveals and this was no different.  I enjoy how the Sherlock we know is turned on his head and re-imagined brilliantly. This is a historical heist as well as a cat and mouse game.  Nothing is as it seems and only the mind behind Sherlock Holmes is up to the task of seeing through the maze to the true intentions.  This can be enjoyed as a stand alone novel, but I suggest at least starting with the book just prior to this one, The Hollow of Fear, to better understand the relationship between Charlotte and Lord Ingram.

Rating:  Excellent - Loved it! Buy it now and put this author on your watch list
Was this review helpful?
In preparation for this review I reread my reviews of the previous three books in the series – I gave book one a B- and books two and three each a B+. The common thread running through all three reviews is the fact that I find these mysteries confusing. There are probably several reasons for this – one is that I’m not a regular mystery reader. Another, which I think just became clear to me with this book, is that there’s a very deliberate choice to withhold information from the reader, often by cutting away from a scene just as that vital information is to be revealed. Anyway, by this, the fourth book, I have come to expect that understanding everything that’s happening – or even that happened, in the end – may not be in the cards for me. The strength of the series lies in other directions.

For the uninitiated, a brief rundown: in the Lady Sherlock series, the nonexistent Sherlock Holmes is the front for Charlotte Holmes, a brilliant, eccentric young lady who fell into the role of solving mysteries after running away from home and being ruined. Other major players include: Charlotte’s neurotic but loving sister Livia, who is almost on the shelf and stuck at home with their unloving parents; Lord Ingram Ashburton, Charlotte’s childhood friend with whom she has unresolved romantic tension; and Charlotte’s own Watson, Mrs. Watson, who provides both a home for Charlotte and invaluable assistance on her cases.

The story kicks off when a woman comes to visit Sherlock Holmes, seeking help. Charlotte greets her with the conceit that she is Sherlock Holmes’ sister, and that her brother is physically incapacitated and unable to have visitors, but is observing the conversation from a private room via a camera obscura. Charlotte deduces that the woman is the Maharani of Ajmer, head of a delegation from India that has recently arrive in London. The maharani is extremely disappointed to realize that “Sherlock” will not be able to help with her task, which does not require his deductive powers as much as it does the services of a cat burglar, or someone else suited for retrieving things surreptitiously. The maharani departs, but not before sharing with Charlotte her suspicions that Charlotte herself is Sherlock.

Shortly after, Mrs. Watson returns from a trip to Paris, and finds herself with an unexpected caller – the maharani. It turns out the two knew each other years before, and were in fact lovers. The maharani does not appear to know about the connection between Charlotte and Mrs. Watson, and after a stilted conversation, she leaves. It’s Charlotte who, learning of the visit, informs Mrs. Watson that the maharani had been to see Sherlock Holmes, seeking help. Mrs. Watson is distraught at the idea that her old friend is in some sort of trouble, and wants to help her. Charlotte demurs at first – for one thing, it would require confirming the maharani’s suspicions that Charlotte is in fact Sherlock – but in the face of Mrs. Watson’s distress, she agrees.

The maharani is wary of accepting help, but after Charlotte adequately proves her skills, she relents. She tells them that there are some sensitive letters that, it’s implied, were stolen from her. She has been told the letters are hidden in the backing of a Van Dyck painting that has been shipped to a chateau in France for private auction.

That home, called Chateau Vaudrieu, hosts an annual Christmas ball that is famously extravagant. The ball is held in conjunction with the art sale. Charlotte’s sister Livia happens to be staying with her, and it’s determined that Charlotte, Livia, Lord Ingram (who also has a connection to Mrs. Watson) and Mrs. Watson will travel to Paris to try to implement a plan to steal the Van Dyck. Rounding out the party is Mr. Stephen Marbleton, who is Livia’s suitor. Stephen is related to the dastardly Holmesian villain Moriarty; he and his family have been in hiding and on the run for years from Moriarty.

The group travels to France and Charlotte meets up with an ally of Lord Ingram’s, Lieutenant Atwood, who Lord Ingram has recruited to help with the theft. The plan is almost halted by Mrs. Watson after a reconnaissance mission at Chateau Vaudrieu endangers the lives of Lord Ingram and Stephen Marbleton. A meeting between the maharani, Charlotte and Mrs. Watson leads to some revelations about the contents of the mysterious letters, and later all parties involved affirm that they wish to go forward with the plan despite the risks.

The mystery/caper plot took a while to get going. I like Mrs. Watson very much, but her fondness for the maharani wasn’t enough to make me care about the latter woman’s problems. The maharani herself is a bit of a cold fish, imperious (as one might expect) and rigid. More interesting was the developing relationship between Livia and Stephen Marbleton.

Livia is very enamored but hesitant to commit to Stephen for a couple of reasons. One is that a life with him will likely mean a life in hiding, avoiding Moriarty’s long and sinister reach. (For this reason, Charlotte disapproves of the connection, though only in her typically detached way.) Another is that Livia is damaged by her upbringing with a cold and critical mother, and in her insecurity she has trouble believing Stephen really wants her. Still, it’s a sweet romance to watch blossom; Stephen is young and exceptionally good-natured in spite of his difficult life.

The relationship between Charlotte and Lord Ashburton is more bittersweet. They consummated their relationship in the previous book, and Charlotte almost idly wonders here and there whether there will be a repeat. But most of Ash’s thoughts about Charlotte aren’t really excessively carnal in nature. There is a wistful romanticism in the way he views her, and in the way that his wishes and expectations are continually thwarted by Charlotte’s emotional limitations. It was an interesting and unusual relationship to read about, though it also made me a little sad.

Around two-thirds into the book, the mystery plot really started to ramp up, and I was briefly absorbed in it. I soon became frustrated. In spite of saying I’ve gotten used to not knowing what was going on, I found myself annoyed that, well, I didn’t know what was going on. There’s a reception at the chateau ahead of the ball and auction, and all of Charlotte’s crew (I should resist the impulse to call it her Scooby Gang, shouldn’t I?) are there in various disguises, except for Lord Ashburton, who is crawling through some tunnels. I felt, as I often do with this series, that I should be understanding the action better than I actually was. I had the sense that I was about two steps behind the characters, and it made me anxious.

A bit later, something else started to bug me; I don’t remember if I’ve had this experience with the previous books in the series or not. It’s that Charlotte comes to conclusions that seem…possible, but not necessarily something she could reasonably have figured out and be certain of, even given her cleverness. Maybe it goes back to the fact – I *have* mentioned this in reviews of previous books – that I really need to have things spelled out for me. Charlotte gets from point A to point L, and I have no idea how she got there or how she’s sure she’s right. (To be fair, there are times in this book when she’s not sure she’s right. On the other hand, she always does end up being right.)

I know we’re supposed see Charlotte as brilliant, but I think that would work better for me if I understood better *how* she’s brilliant.

There are some coincidences (at least I think they were coincidences?) that didn’t hold up under close scrutiny, either. What are the odds that the maharani’s visit to Sherlock Holmes would

Spoiler (spoiler): Show

I am probably not terribly consistent in being bothered by coincidences in fiction – I know sometimes I just accept them as the price of admission. Perhaps it’s just that in this sort of tightly plotted novel, they tend to stand out more?
While The Art of Theft advanced the overarching plot (at least in regard to the relationships between Livia and Marbleton and between Charlotte and Ash), the central plot wasn’t the strongest of the four books in the series. My grade for this one is a B-.
Was this review helpful?
Nothing short of what you'd expect from Sherlock Holmes, or maybe something more - since this Sherlock is a woman, pretending to be her brother Sherlock. Deductive reasoning at its best, with ribbons of facts and characters woven along. Anyone versed with Sherlock Holmes stories is frozen with fear at the name of Moriarty, and that person is in this story as well. Deep plot with both the story and regular characters. It would be good to see this in a movie. Charlotte and her crew go under cover at a French mansion to pull off an impossible theft. A mansion complete with secret underground passages. Scary stuff!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher and NetGalley book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
#NetGalley #TheArtOfTheft
Was this review helpful?