Welcome to day two of the Blog on Fire: Thrice Burned Blog Tour. Today’s stop on Fab Book Reviews features an advance review of Angela Misri’s soon-to-be-released novel!
Review: Thrice Burned (Portia Adams Adventure #2) by Angela Misri
Source: ARC courtesy of Fierce Ink Press. Thank you!
Expected Publication: March 24, 2015 by Fierce Ink Press
Verdict: Very Good/Excellent
If you play with fire, you might get burned.
Portia is still reeling from finding out that her guardian, Mrs. Jones, is actually the infamous Irene Adler and her grandmother. As if that wasn’t shocking enough, Sherlock Holmes is her grandfather, a secret Portia’s mother took to her grave. As a diversion, Portia throws herself into work and continues to consult with Scotland Yard on their hard-to-crack cases, including a brazen theft that the perpetrator boasted about before it took place, as well as the disappearance of prostitutes. While on the trail of an arsonist she meets Annie, a resourceful reporter. They strike up a friendship and Annie starts to report on “P.C. Adams”, the consulting detective keeping London safe, but she promises to keep Portia’s true identity secret. Neighbor Constable Brian Dawes takes a shine to Annie just as Portia starts to question her own feelings for him. At the same time Portia attracts the attention of Gavin Whitaker, a medical student and her intellectual equal. He may just be the distraction she needs.
As the press starts to show an interest in P.C. Adams, an impostor comes forward, and Portia must choose between remaining anonymous and letting the world know the truth.
I think all readers hope for novels in a series to steadily grow and heighten in story and character as subsequent books follow. While I find that this doesn’t happen often enough, I am happy to say that Thrice Burned absolutely shines.
Over the course of this novel we see quite a bit of development in Portia’s social life: her meeting of and growing friendship with reporter Annie Coleson; the affectionate interest of a handsome, determined doctor named Gavin Whitaker; and the increasing friction between her and Constable Brian Dawes (who was introduced in book one). While some attention is placed on Portia’s affections and emotions for both Brian and Dr. Whitaker (and her insecurities), neither romance nor a plausible love triangle is the focus. I think that Misri did a great job here, building supporting and main characters and Portia’s case work instead of following the line of romance. Portia’s professional work, friendship with and respect of the police and doctors she works with is the cornerstone here and I think this sequel is all the stronger for it. Romance and relationships may become a larger focus in the next novel, and I think it will be all the more enjoyable and interesting because of the foundation laid out here and in book one.
Regarding Portia’s detective work, I especially enjoyed and was taken in with the breadth of detail in each of Portia’s case books. It a bit funny because I found the first novel to be dragging in some portions and hoped for a faster clip in future installments; in Thrice Burned there are more technicalities and pieces of information given for each major case but Misri makes it work so well and it flows at smooth pace. I personally found that the writing became sharper, more focused and fluid as the cases went on. The last casebook, Truth Be Told– regarding missing female street workers and a highly suspicious reverend- was fascinating. Whether due to the case’s slightly grittier nature, Portia’s sheer tenacity, or that it afforded eerie parallels to present-day, I thought the last case book was really gripping.
What I also found interesting is that while Portia- along with Dawes and other prominent members of Scotland Yard- figure their way through major three cases, not everything gets resolved. In other words, things do not necessarily wrap up tidily. Loose threads start to appear between cases and criminals; the Yard starts to falter and hints at a potential threat to come from upper agencies. Furthermore, on top of Portia’s qualms about coming forward publicly to news agencies about her work with the Yard, she worries greatly about what will happen if more people discover that both Irene Adler and Sherlock Holmes are her relatives. Multiple threats to Portia herself and Scotland Yard start to emerge in this novel; I started to wonder if or when we might be introduced to a Moriarty-type character! Someone utterly sinister and twisted…with his or her heart set on extinguishing a descendent of Holmes. Needless to say, there is quite a bit left untied here; all the more for the next Portia Adams Adventure to sink into, I think!
Overall, this sequel did impress. Portia is slowly growing into first-rate character for me; one that I genuinely like and look forward to reading more about. She is exceedingly bright but with a level of empathy that can often be lacking in other brilliant detectives. If you have read and enjoyed Jewel of the Thames, then I highly recommend continuing on with the series. As I noted previously, readers on the lookout for intelligently written historical mysteries, detective fiction, and/or Sherlock Holmes-inspired YA, might want to try this series out. Fans of this series, myself firmly included, can look forward to a third Portia Adams Adventure expected in 2016.