A Study in Darkness (The Baskerville Affair, #2)

A Study in Darkness (The Baskerville Affair, #2) - Emma Jane Holloway (I received an ARC e-copy of this book from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

This second installment in the "Baskerville Affair" series takes a darker turn for its protagonists, in a good way. The author keeps on developing an interesting society, dominated by manipulative steam barons who all seek to move their pawns and take new ones in the process. She also weaves unsolved elements from the first book into this one, allowing to make more sense of what happened then, and introduces a few more questions that pave the way for volume three... not to mention two cliffhangers at the end, regarding the fate of two characters.

Evelina is now faced with harsher choices, partly due to her own mistakes, the latter being as many opportunities to make her fall. However, she does her best to keep her head high, and do what she must do while trying to find a solution to her predicament. Some of her decisions may seem rash or stupid, but much less so when remembering she's only 19, and pitched again people twice her age (at least), who have had much more experience in the great game of manipulation. There's potential here for some huge comeback on her part, as well as for temptation of the darkest kind, and I sure want to know what she's going to do in the last part of the series.

The romance aspect remains present, in a more interesting way than the somewhat feeble triangle from book one. Evelina seems to make a decision in that regard that suits her personality much more, although it's a source of problems in and of itself. Here, too, lie more opportunities for the author to exploit later, and I hope this will be the case. I like what Nick has become: he's going about his new life and decisions with gusto, and although he's on the wrong side of the law, he's probably one of the more decent people in all that, along with Imogen and, surprisingly, Alice Keating (who was given the short end of the straw, yet seems to be able to fall back on her feet in the future).

No ties with canon Sherlock Holmes cases this time; on the other hand, it's the fall of 1888, and a lot of scenes are set in Whitechapel... This period, setting and characters imply another cameo, of course, and this time the murderer is in my opinion quite unexpected, although logical when considering the big picture.

I wasn't too thrilled with the characterization of Holmes in this book, but he doesn't appear that much, and he's not the main focus of the story, so it didn't bother me as much as if everything had revolved about him.