Author: Robert Appleton
Publication: Carina Press (January 31, 2011)
Description: In a time of grand airships and steam-powered cars, the death of a penniless young maid will hardly make the front page. But part-time airship waitress and music hall dancer Julia Bairstow is shattered by her sister's murder. When Lady Law, the most notorious private detective in Britain, offers to investigate the case pro bono, Julia jumps at the chance—even against the advice of Constable Al Grant, who takes her protection surprisingly to heart.
Lady Law puts Scotland Yard to shame. She's apprehended Jack the Ripper and solved countless other cold-case crimes. No one knows how she does it, but it's brought her fortune, renown and even a title. But is she really what she claims to be—a genius at deducing? Or is Al right and she is not be trusted?
Julia is determined to find out the truth, even if it means turning sleuth herself—and turning the tables on Lady Law...
My Thoughts: This is a steampunk novella of 31,000 words. Because of the short length, character development wasn't quite what it would be in a longer work. The story was, however, filled with adventure and wonderful steampunk gadgets including a time machine.
Julia gets involved with the mysterious Lady Law when her sister Georgy is murdered and Lady Law volunteers to work the case gratis. Constable Al Grant advises her to refuse but she is desperate to find out who killed her sister. After Lady Law comes up with a solution that seems to neat for Julia, Julia continues to investigate and begins investigating Lady Law herself.
Julia works with Al Grant, who has become her love interest, and the adventurer Horace Holly. Holly gets involved because Lady Law's explanation implicates his young assistant Josh who has disappeared.
Lady Law herself is an intriguing character - sort of a Sherlock Holmes in petticoats. She is credited with never having failed to solve any case she took. She is the one who uncovered Jack the Ripper. She has gained wealth and fame for her investigations and has published a very popular book of her cases. In person, Julia finds her cold and sort of like a clockwork doll. She has a certain arrogance about her too.
It is interesting to see if a dance hall girl, detective and aging adventurer can outwit the formidable Lady Law. I recommend this book to lovers of steampunk and lovers of mysteries.
Lady Law was a woman sharpened to an angry point--a blade inside a parasol--and she had found something better than hope to see her through. She had a mind and a talent no one could touch. That made her formidable, cold, and perhaps impossible to truly know.