A Crimson Warning: A Lady Emily Mystery

Written by Tasha Alexander
Review by Jeanne Greene

In Alexander’s latest mystery featuring Lady Emily Hargreaves (after Dangerous to Know, 2010), someone is literally painting the town red, tagging the homes of London elite with paint while publicizing their dirty secrets. The targets are all embarrassed, some are disgraced – and at least one is marked for murder.

Lady Emily learns about the deadly warnings while attending a ball. She is young, beautiful, wealthy, intelligent, educated, and in love with a handsome husband who appreciates her talents. What more can a woman want? In Victorian England, quite a lot. Lady Emily is an accomplished, if unorthodox, criminal investigator. She can’t expect recognition for doing what’s considered a “man’s job” but, fortunately, she’s motivated by a sense of justice. She befriends those whose homes are marked with red, determined to prevent another life from being ruined – or lost – if the perpetrator strikes again. False leads and puzzling clues stymie her investigation, but with a little help from her chess-playing husband, Lady Emily discovers the (surprising) identity of the person with the crimson paint.

A Crimson Warning has a fast-moving plot, witty dialogue, elegant settings, and a clever ending. What more can a reader want? An increase in Lady Emily’s awareness of Victorian social problems would make her even more interesting. So would a more exciting love story!