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Chapel Noir (2001)

por Carole Nelson Douglas

Séries: Irene Adler (5)

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279994,759 (3.85)5
Before Caleb Carr and Laurie R. King, Carole Nelson Douglas gave readers a compelling look into Victoriana with a bold new detective character: Irene Adler, the only woman to ever outwit Sherlock Holmes. An operatic diva and the intellectual equal of most of the men she encounters, Irene is as much at home with disguises and a revolver as with high society and haute couture. "Chapel Noir" is the fifth book in Carole Nelson Douglas's critically acclaimed Irene Adler series, which reinvents "the woman" that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle introduced in "A Scandal in Bohemia" as the heroine of her own extravagant adventures. This time readers are thrust into one of the darkest periods of criminal fact and fiction when two courtesans are found brutally slaughtered in the lavish boudoir of a Paris house. No woman should ever see such horrors, authorities declare, but a powerful sponsor has insisted that Irene investigate the case, along with her faithful companion, sheltered parson's daughter Penelope Huxleigh. But does anyone really seek the truth, or do they wish only to bury it with the dead women--for there is a worse horror that will draw Irene and her archrival, Sherlock Holmes, into a duel of wits with a fiendish opponent. These Paris killings mimic a series of gruesome murders that terrorized London only months before, in a dangerous and disreputable part of town known as Whitechapel...… (mais)
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Interesting but unsatisfying novel. Author Arthur Conan Doyle created the character Irene Adler in a short Sherlock Holmes story called ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’. Doyle claims that Irene Adler is the only person to have out smarted Sherlock Holmes.

Author Carole Nelson Douglas has taken this character and made her into a formidable private investigator; a contemporary and rival of Sherlock Holmes. Irene Adler’s adventures are narrated by her companion Penelope Huxleigh, much like Sherlock Holmes’ adventures are narrated by Dr. Watson.

In this story, Irene Adler is asked by the Rothschild family to investigate the murder of two Paris prostitutes. The murders are similar to the murders committed by Jack the Ripper the previous year in London. The trail takes Irene and her companion to a high-class Paris brothel, the Paris morgue, the new Eiffel Tower and the catacombs of Paris. During her investigations, she crosses paths with Sherlock Holmes, who has also been asked to investigate these murders.

The book ends without the case being resolved. Adler and Holmes break-up a cult that holds evil rituals in the catacombs of Paris, but whoever committed the murders is not identified or captured. Holmes returns to London to investigate the deep implications, and Adler is left to recover her companion, who has been captured by some unknown men who have some connection with the people who hold the evil rituals. Apparently, this will all be resolved in the next book.

I had looked forward to reading of the adventures of a formidable female detective who could out perform Sherlock Holmes. While Irene Adler does indeed appear to be a power to be reckoned with, her exploits are told to us by her prim companion, and we don’t really get to know Irene that well. Adler seems to make all her discoveries while Penelope is not present. Penelope tells us Adler wants to visit the Paris morgue, but she has no idea why Adler wanted to go there. Adler wants to visit a wine cellar, but Penelope doesn’t know why. And it goes on like this. Adler makes progress on the case, we never understand how Adler came to make the decisions she made.

I found the personality of Adler’s companion Penelope most annoying and grating. Not really understanding Adler’s methods, she editorializes on the social problems of the day. Her prim judgmental character disapproves of everything. The new Eiffel Tower is ugly and will probably be torn down soon, or at least it should be. I believe the author intended Penelope to have some comedic effect, but I found it off-putting.

At 500 pages, there was no payoff at the end, and I would not recommend this novel. ( )
  ramon4 | Dec 6, 2016 |
I have always been intrigued by Irene Adler and I read the next book in the series a million years ago and had purchased this one and the one after it so I could have a more thorough picture of the story. I love the many different real and fictional historical characters that make an appearance in the book. I think that I may have overhyped the series in my head. I'll finish the three I have but I think I'm no longer quite so in love. ( )
  Rosa.Mill | Nov 21, 2015 |
One pf te series of mysteries in which the detective is Irene Adler from the Sherlock Holmes story "Scandal in Bohemia" --rather grim, but to me worth the 325 cents I paid for it
  antiquary | Jul 5, 2013 |
I'm so glad I've gotten back into reading this series. I'm even happier that I waited, even though I've been buying the books in hardcover as soon as they've been released. At least I'm happy that I didn't read this one when it first came out.

Why? Because it's part one, and it wasn't clearly indicated that there was a part one and a part two; nor did it end with a conclusion of any sort. Since part two, Castle Rouge, was right there on my TBR pile, I didn't mind, but I imagine I'd have been rather upset if I'd had to wait a year for it, and not in the good way I was upset about waiting to find out what happened at the end of Evanovich's High Five.

Anyway, ex-opera diva Irene Adler Norton, best known as the only woman to outwit Sherlock Holmes, and her companion Nell Huxleigh are back in Paris, while Irene's husband Godfrey is off to Prague on business for the Rothschilds. Irene gets a summons from An Important Personage to investigate a pair of gruesome murders in a brothel that are uncannily like those of Jack the Ripper some months earlier in London.

Irene and Nell are joined by "Pink," the young prostitute who discovered the bodies. It's soon apparent that Pink isn't exactly what she seems, but Irene brings her home and includes her in their investigations, which also involve the Prince of Wales, Bram Stoker, Sherlock Holmes, and Buffalo Bill.

Once again, I very much enjoy Nell's first-person narrative. She's a somewhat unreliable narrator, often misunderstanding things, though this case is a definite eye-opener for her. And that's part of why I didn't like this book as well as the previous ones: the chapters alternate between Nell and Pink and an unidentified, but also female, source. There's a reason for having more than one narrator, and Pink did grow on me after an initial dislike, particularly after we learn her secret, but the narrator change did distract from the story.

I also missed the character of Godfrey, who seemed too conveniently missing until his absence was better explained toward the end of the book. Mostly, though, if I'd realized before the very end that Chapel Noir was just part one, I think it would have been another 5-star read. I'd have been less impatient, knowing I had nearly 1000 pages for the threads to all tie together. ( )
  Darla | Nov 28, 2008 |
More "spin off" fiction. In these stories you follow Irene Adler, the only woman A.C. Doyle setup to outwit Sherlock Holmes (A Scandal in Bohemia). Adler is an accomplished opera singer and amateur sleuth back in Victorian-era Paris.

Douglas paints pictures of lots of brothels and dark alleys as she ties in Adler's story with the mystery surrounding Jack the Ripper.
So some of the story comes off cliche.

But it's a great read if you like Holmes and Victorian era stories.

I thought Douglas did a good job of extending the Holmes canon without going too far.

Fans of detective mysterys will enjoy. ( )
  trav | Aug 2, 2006 |
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Before Caleb Carr and Laurie R. King, Carole Nelson Douglas gave readers a compelling look into Victoriana with a bold new detective character: Irene Adler, the only woman to ever outwit Sherlock Holmes. An operatic diva and the intellectual equal of most of the men she encounters, Irene is as much at home with disguises and a revolver as with high society and haute couture. "Chapel Noir" is the fifth book in Carole Nelson Douglas's critically acclaimed Irene Adler series, which reinvents "the woman" that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle introduced in "A Scandal in Bohemia" as the heroine of her own extravagant adventures. This time readers are thrust into one of the darkest periods of criminal fact and fiction when two courtesans are found brutally slaughtered in the lavish boudoir of a Paris house. No woman should ever see such horrors, authorities declare, but a powerful sponsor has insisted that Irene investigate the case, along with her faithful companion, sheltered parson's daughter Penelope Huxleigh. But does anyone really seek the truth, or do they wish only to bury it with the dead women--for there is a worse horror that will draw Irene and her archrival, Sherlock Holmes, into a duel of wits with a fiendish opponent. These Paris killings mimic a series of gruesome murders that terrorized London only months before, in a dangerous and disreputable part of town known as Whitechapel...

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