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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Book Review: The Scarlet Thread (Gaslamp Gothic #7) by Kat Ross

The Scarlet Thread (Gaslamp Gothic #7)
by Kat Ross
June 24, 2022
Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files in this Gilded Age paranormal mystery series readers call "page-turning," "stay-up-all-night," "witty, smart, and a little sexy."

Bloody Mary Worth.
Say her name thirteen times in a mirror and you might see the face of your future husband.
Or, less happily, your own shrieking demise.

December 1889. When society girls start dropping like flies at the start of the Winter Ball Season, Harrison Fearing Pell lands her first juicy case since she was suspended from the Society for Psychical Research. And the prime suspect is the very same client who landed her in the soup last time—criminal prodigy and all-around nuisance James Moran.

The victims appear to have been scared to death. But is the real culprit the ghost of a vengeful dead girl—or something even worse? As Harry digs deeper into Mary’s unsolved murder thirty years before, the icy hand of the past reaches into the present. What is the significance of the scarlet thread wound around the victims’ fingers? Is there a connection to the mesmerism fad sweeping New York? And if he’s innocent, why is James still such an insufferable bastard?

Moran’s connections to the city’s seedy underworld might be the key to untangling the mystery—assuming Harry can find the answer before she ends up killing him herself.

Gaslamp Gothic is an enchanting series featuring shifting points of view. Described by Ross as a “loose collection” these books tackle similar themes, interwoven stories, and intersecting characters. Readers have been gifted a full cast of rich characters and imaginative tales throughout the series. The Scarlet Thread marks the return of paranormal investigator Harrison “Harry” Pell and her loyal partner and companion John Weston. Together the pair attempt to explain the seemingly unexplainable in late 1880s New York City. In The Scarlet Thread, Harry is called upon to solve the seeming serial murders of a tight group of young debutantes. Before long, Harry and John realize they aren’t chasing a human suspect, but the horrific and mythical entity known as Bloody Mary.

As a child, the Bloody Mary tale terrified me. Being in a dark room with a mirror was out of the question. I even begged my dad to remove a mirror in my room as I wholeheartedly believed Bloody Mary reached through the glass and pulled my hair while a slept. When I discovered Mary was the subject of the newest installment in one of my favourite series, curiosity and enthusiasm won out over irrational childhood fear. My bravery was rewarded.

In this installment, Ross characteristically delivers an enthralling, entertaining and charming story. The suspense and action are engaging and the relationship and character building ever so satisfying. Ross paints a rich picture of New York in a bygone era. Her characters are immensely likeable, even the unscrupulous James Moran. Harry is a heroine of a time long past, but very much suitable for the 21st century. She’s fiercely independent, honorable, and charming. She’s determined to forge a path of adventure and enlightenment but isn’t afraid to seek help and friendship along the way.

Kat Ross is a must-read author and Gaslamp Gothic is not to be missed. The next installment will also feature Harry and John and they research the beast of Loch Ness. I anxiously anticipate this next installment. I highly recommend another Ross series, Lingua Magika. The uniquely fascinating sci-fi western trilogy wrapped earlier this year.

Five Sheep

Bianca Greenwood

About the Author:
Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She’s the author of the Fourth Element and Fourth Talisman fantasy series, the Gaslamp Gothic paranormal mysteries, and the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Check out Kat’s Pinterest page for the people, places and things that inspire her books.

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