A Tempest at Sea by Sherry Thomas
Lady Sherlock #7
March 14, 2023 by Berkley
Charlotte Holmes’s brilliant mind and deductive skills are pulled into a dangerous investigation at sea in this new mystery of the bestselling Lady Sherlock series.
After feigning her own death in Cornwall to escape from Moriarty’s perilous attention, Charlotte Holmes goes into hiding. But then she receives a tempting offer: Find a dossier the crown is desperately seeking, and she might be able to go back to a normal life.
Her search leads her aboard the RMS Provence. But on the night Charlotte makes her move to retrieve the dossier, in the midst of a terrifying storm in the Bay of Biscay, a brutal murder takes place on the ship.
Instead of solving the crime, as she is accustomed to doing, Charlotte must take care not to be embroiled in this investigation, lest it become known to those who harbor ill intentions that Sherlock Holmes is abroad and still very much alive.
The RMS Provence, berthed quayside at the Port of Southampton, shone in the sun, its steel hull a gleaming black, its upper levels blazing white. Four masts, each with three sets of cross-beams, rose fifty feet from the weather deck. Though they had the full complement of rigging, no sails had been unfurled to flap in the breeze. A platoon of seagulls squatted on the cross-beams; one strutted across as if on parade.
The masts were only auxiliary features. The Provence’s propulsion depended on a triple-expansion steam engine that drove a single screw propeller. Two stubby and rather incongruous-looking funnels rose between the masts, to conduct exhaust from the great boilers below up and away from the vessel.
“Are you sure that one over there is not…her?” asked Mrs. Watson suddenly, her voice low and anxious.
Charlotte, standing with her back to the gunwale, her face tilted up to admire the structural design of the Provence—so as not to appear too interested in the passengers—glanced toward “that one over there” referred to by Mrs. Watson, a woman of about thirty who had her hand on the shoulder of a young girl, the girl just tall enough to peer over the gunwale down at the still bustling quay.
“No,” she murmured, telling Mrs. Watson what the latter already know. “The one we’re looking for would be traveling with a boy. Two boys, in fact.”
Three weeks had passed since Charlotte and Lord Remington’s emissary had agreed to terms. Her search since had been thorough, systematic, and fruitless. As fate would have it, her final possibility, a German governess, was scheduled to board the Provence, on the exact sailing as that taken by Livia, Mrs. Newell, and Lord Ingram.
The ship had a maximum passenger capacity of only seventy. It sold only first-class passages, so everyone came aboard on the same gangplank. Charlotte was sure she’d missed no one, but noon was drawing nigh and Frau Schmidt and her charges had yet to appear.
She turned around. The Provence measured four hundred forty feet in length and forty-four feet across at the beam, but other than the towering masts, next to which the funnels looked like dwarfs, it was not a terribly tall ship. With a hull full of coal and cargo, and the quay a good six feet above water, Charlotte did not loom much higher above the quay than she would have been, looking down from the bow window of her office at number 18 to Upper Baker Street below.
Burly stevedores surrounded the last few wagons of provisions. Enormous slabs of ice, cover in straw mats, were crane-lifted into the hold to keep those provisions fresh. Further away a mail wagon jostled toward shipside, eager to entrust its contents to a royal mail ship headed for the distant outposts of the empire.
Wait, the man coming up the gangplank, early middle age, tall, slightly portly, with a deep-featured face and a cordial expression, was he…
Yes, he was. Inspector Brighton of Scotland Yard.
Charlotte glanced down at the water, it was low tide in the estuary and a band of green growth clung to the side of the quay. The air smelled of coal smoke, grease, and a hint of rubbish. She did not look at Inspector Brighton again, not even when he must have disappeared inside. There had been a Brighton on the passenger list, but she and Lord Ingram had not considered that it might be their former adversary.
What was he doing here?
Excerpted from A Tempest at Sea by Sherry Thomas Copyright © 2023 by Sherry Thomas. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas is one of the most acclaimed historical romance authors writing today and a two-time RITA Award winner. Learn more online at www.sherrythomas.com.
Author photo credit- Jennifer Sparks Harriman