I could not be more pleased that Tasha Alexander is the kind of prolific author who comes out with one book a year seeing as her Lady Emily mystery series is just soooo good that waiting any longer for the next installment would be simply intolerable. To answer the obvious question-yes that means this novel, the third in the series aptly titled "A Fatal Waltz" is just as good, if not better than its predecessors. And far more dangerous...
We join Lady Emily Ashton for a shooting weekend at the hideously decorated country estate of Lord Fortescue, one of the most powerful men in England who has taken a great dislike to Emily because of her pursuit of the scholarly arts and her engagement to Colin Hargreaves, who often investigates matters for the Empire that demand a certain amount of discretion (in other words, he's a beautiful spy). The terrible man has decided to make the party hideously uncomfortable for Emily by pointing out one of the guests, a beautiful Austrian countess, was once involved with Colin in a way that no fiancé could be happy about. But Emily's distress over the Countess is put on hold when Fortescue is found murdered and out of all the people in the party it is Robert Brandon, Emily's best friends Ivy's husband, who is charged with the crime because of a rather public argument with his political mentor, Fortescue.
Charged by Robert to find proof of a warning of a plot for the Lord's death sent from Vienna to the departed Lord shortly before his death Emily, Cecil Du Lac and Jeremy Sheffield Duke of Bainbridge head to Vienna to find out what they can to help Brandon, where they are shortly joined by Colin. But help is lacking from the Countess, who wants Colin back, and so Lady Emily soon finds herself dealing with anarchists and uncovering plots to send England to war with Austria and Germany-and all the while a man (also at the shooting party) stalks Emily through the snowy streets of Venice, reminding her with bullets in her rooms, pockets and purses that neither she nor Colin are safe in the course they peruse...
As Emily delves deeper into the underworld of Viennese society and the complex word of political spying and manipulations she comes to realize what Colin's job really entails-and how dangerous-and invaluable- the work he does truly is. Can Emily, amateur as she is, find a way to exonerate Robert? Can she do so without putting herself or Coin in mortal danger? Can she unwind the mysterious web of suicides and ancient scandals which seem to have led to the Lord's death while trying to thwart a plot to plunge the world into war? And can she accomplish all of this while dodging Bainbridge's obviously growing feelings for her without losing his friendship?
Well, if this Mary Elizabeth Braddon reading, Worth wearing, port drinking, crime solving lady of society can't do it then there is no hope for the world at all.
Lady Emily is one of the most original, charming and fascinating characters I have come across in ages. Her narration is charming (for once I have no feelings at all that this book would be bettered by a change to third person) completely absorbing and will keep you with your nose buried in the pages of this book until you have reached the most satisfying end. I recommend this book as highly as I can. There's mystery, history, intrigue, danger, humor and a great deal of romance. Something for everyone.
Five stars and more. I cannot wait for the next in the series and look forward to the changes that the fourth Lady Emily novel must encompass.