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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
This complex mystery-by far the best in the series to date-seems to demand a long and detailed reviewMay 24 2008
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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.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.5 Stars - Not the best of the seriesJuly 2 2008
L. J. Roberts
- Published on Amazon.com
A FATAL WALTZ (Hist Mys/Amateur Sleuth-Emily, Lady Aston-England/Austria-Victorian) - G+ Alexander, Tasha - 3rd in series William Morrow, 2008, US Hardcover - ISBN: 9780061174223
First Sentence: I had not noticed it when she first arrived: the way she leaned too far towards him as he kissed her hand, the hint of surprised recognition in his eyes.
What begins as a tedious weekend in the country, for Emily, Lady Aston and her fiancé Colin Hargreaves, changes dramatically. The politically powerful Lord Fortescue is murdered and the husband of Emily's friend, Ivy, is accused of his murder. It is going to depend upon Emily, and a trip to Vienna, to set matters right.
I enjoy this series, but this wasn't my favorite book of it. My feelings toward it are a series of contrasts.
The characters are wonderful, if you've read the previous two books, but lacked character development, if you've not. I love Emily and Colin.
I was disappointed there the delightful supporting characters from the previous books didn't have a bigger role. The inclusion of history and historical figures adds verisimilitude. It is always fascinating reading about the social mores of that time and the descriptions are wonderfully done.
I think the biggest problem I had is the same I have with modern amateur sleuths; they just don't seem plausible to me in some of the things they get away with doing, although Ms. Alexander tries hard to make it work.
The first book of this series, "And Only to Deceive," was so well done, I wonder whether this entry suffers a bit by comparison. Even so, I shall continue with the series.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Not Her BestJune 23 2008
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I had been eagerly awaiting the publication of this book. I read both of Alexander's previous novels and enjoyed them very much, especially A Poisoned Season.
This is the third murder mystery solved by Lady Ashton. She is the a young widow engaged to her dead husband's best friend. Her finance, Colin Hargreaves works for the government and appreciates Emily's bright and inquisitive mind. Emily is at a party at Lord Fortescue's estate when the nasty old politician is murdered and her best friend Ivy's husband Robert Brandon is arrested for the crime. Colin is sent on urgent national business and now it's up to Emily to solve the crime and free her dear friend's husband.
Unfortunately I was very disappointed by A Fatal Waltz. I thought this novel was seriously lacking character development. It felt like this was the last chapter of another book rather than a solid work of fiction that would stand on it's own. I thought the mystery was lacking, it seemed almost silly to me. The relationship between Emily and Colin seemed flat and lacked realism. I thought some of the placement of things was a bit odd; a letter from Margaret placed right in the middle of the unfolding of a murder. And the whole idea that Emily would just call upon the hated evil anarchist in Vienna was just not that believable to me. The thread of unrequited love seemed a bit silly to me as well. Oh the poor soul is devastated and then healed with little transition from one to the other.
This novel is not of the same quality as A Poisoned Season and I was rather disappointed. I will likely read the next adventure of Lady Ashton but I won't be chomping at the bit to buy it the moment it's published, I'll borrow it from the library and hope it's better than this installment.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The Best Yet!!!May 21 2008
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I have adored Alexander's two previous novels in this series. Each book has been even better than the one before and A Fatal Waltz is no exception. I devoured this book in two sittings--could not put it down. Alexander once again transports us back in time, with vivid images of Victorian England. Emily and Colin sparkle on the page, as does her nearly perfect-pitch prose! I cannot recommend A Fatal Waltz highly enough!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Not like the previous books ...July 25 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
Emily (Lady Ashton) is invited to a shooting weekend at Lord Fortescue's estate in the country where ... well, quite a few things happen. First, there's her nasty host, Lord Fortescue, a man of considerable political influence and rather chummy with the Queen. Readers of A Poisoned Season will remember Fortescue's attitude towards our amateur sleuth. In this book, the man's nastiness has cranked up a notch or three; not only does he try to accuse Emily of stealing politically sensitive documents, but he also tries to put a wedge in her relationship with Colin Hargreaves, by inviting Colin's former lover, the great, the beautiful, the picture perfect, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, muse-worthy Countess von Lange.
But Lord Fortescue's ultimate dream of our heroine's social demise comes to a sudden halt as he is killed. And the man accused of his murder is Robert Brandon. Robert doesn't care much for Emily's modern thinking and 'outlandish' behavior, but now that it aides his cause, he needs her help to uncover who truly murdered Lord no-one-will-truly-miss-me Fortescue (his 'shooting' weekend was a huge success, I'd say!).
And so Emily travels to Vienna, where suicide is the new black, to uncover the truth. But she gets more than she's bargained for as she once again crosses paths with the brilliantly super-intelligent Countess von Lange. The countess, a Victorian Mother Theresa, is absolutely determined to retrieve her stolen property (Colin). But is Emily willing to pimp Colin to his former lover -- who owned him first? Or will Emily, selfish creature that she is, keep Colin all to herself?
Does Colin actually care?
What anarchists? What unsolved murder? Sissi who? Such tedious questions when there is pleasure to be had in the form of Countess von Lange, Vienna's local Alessandra Ambrosia.
Yes, yes, I found the countess as appealing as fingernails on chalkboard. This person is so unpleasant and I wonder that no one actually notices it, especially Colin. The countess doesn't hide her childish dislike for Emily, even in front of Emily's fiancé. One would immediately call it petty, but apparently, in Victorian society (and Colin's eye), this is 'worldly' and 'sophisticated'. A disappointing, soap opera-esque rival, to say the least.