I have finished the 89th book for the book challenge. It was Tears of Pearl: A Novel Of Suspense (Lady Emily Mysteries) by Tasha Alexander.
Lady Emily Hargreaves and her husband Sir Colin Hargreaves are on their honeymoon. They have traveled from England to Paris, then on the Orient Express to Constantinople. On the train they meet Sir Richard St. Clare who works in the American embassy in Constantinople and hear is distressing tale of his wife’s death and the kidnapping of his young daughter Ceyden many years ago. Sir Richard has spent his life looking for his daughter. His son Benjamin was spared in the attack that took his wife’s life. Also traveling with them is Mr. Edward Sutliffe, also attached to the embassy. Sir Richard suffers an attack of some kind on the train, but manages of recover. He invites the Hargreaves to attend an opera that is being given by the sultan the next night at the palace.
Lady Emily and Colin settle in at their rented house, the Yaldiz. It is on the European side of the Bosphorus and they must take the ferry back to the sultan’s palace. They watch the opera, which takes an interesting turn. Instead of a tragic ending, it has a happy ending, as the sultan does not like tragedy. They leave the opera when commotion is heard coming from the harim gardens. One of the women has been found murdered. Sir Colin goes to investigate. They discover that the woman, one of the sultan’s harim, is none other than Ceyden, Sir Richard’s long-lost daughter, all grown up. She has been strangled. A ring is found with her body. The sultan asks Sir Colin and Lady Emily to help investigate the murder. Lady Emily asks permission to go into the harim and interview the women of the harim. The sultan gives permission.
While Sir Colin is interviewing the men of the sultan’s household, Lady Emily is interviewing the women of the harim. She meets Bezime, a highly placed woman, who was advising Ceyden on how she could get herself noticed by the sultan. Lady emily, when going through Ceyden’s belongings, discovers jewels sewn into the hems of her clothing. One of these jewels belongs to Perestu, the highest ranking woman in the harim. She is very upset about this. Lady Emily also makes contact with Roxalana, a Christian who wants to leave the harim and who wants Lady Emily to helps her. Lady Emily also interview the eunuch Jemel, who watches over the women and who was very involved with Ceyden. He is very close to both Bezime and Perestu. Lady Emily discovers that the women went on an outing and that there was an accident and Ceyden fell into the water. An Englishman rescued her; he had been in contact with her, she learns. There were letters between the two.
In the meantime, Sir Richard is having more attacks. The doctor thinks he is taking too much chloral hydrate. Sir Richard’s job performance is suffering. He is in jeopardy of losing his job. Sir Colin finds the son Benjamin, but he has left his job as an archaeologist. He has been shot at on the job. He says he has gone to find his love. Then he is going to Italy.
Then Bezime is discovered strangled. Lady Emily is upset by this because it means the killer is still out there and is not through with his murders. Bezime had told Lady Emily that she is pregnant. That is why she has been feeling sick on the journey across the Bosphorous each morning. Lady Emily is afraid to be pregnant. Lady Emily has been worrying about her friend Ivy who is with Lady Emily’s mother in England awaiting the birth of Ivy’s first child.
Then Jemel the eunuch is found strangled. The killer is becoming more bold. Roxalana is putting pressure on lady Emily to help her escape the harim. Lady Emily agrees. Lady Emily and Sir Colin, with the help of Lady Emily’s friend Margaret, figure out that the Englishman who helped Ceyden on the ill-fated outing was in fact Benjamin St. Clare. They also know that Mr. Sutliffe is involved in the poisoning of Sir Richard with the chloral hydrate. The ring that was found with Ceyden’s body was Perestu’s ring that was given to her by Mr. Sutliffe. Lady Emily also discovers that Mr. Sutliffe did not stay until the end of the opera the night that Ceyden was murdered in the harim garden.
The day that Roxalana is supposed to escape, Lady Emily receives word that Mr. Sutliffe has taken Roxalana. Lady Emily goes after him, but first sends word to Sir Colin. Lady Emily now knows that Mr. Sutliffe committed the murderer because he wanted revenge on Sir Richard for not taking his place in the Virgin Islands years ago. When Mr. Sutliffe was posted to the Virgin Islands, he asked Sir Richard to go in his place and Sir Richard refused. Mr. Sutliffe lost his wife and two children in an epidemic there and he has been plotting his revenge ever since.
The end of the book is an exciting tale of how Lady Emily rescues Roxalana. Then finally Lady Emily and Sir Colin can resume their long-awaited honeymoon.
This book was confusing in many way, with palace intrigue and many foreign names and customs. It was extremely complex and I didn’t really follow all of it, especially all the ins and outs of the politics of the harim life. But I did enjoy the book, although not as much as I have other Lady Emily mysteries.