The Mysterious Lady Law, by Robert Appleton (website, twitter).
In a time of grand airships and steam-powered cars, the death of a penniless young maid will hardly make the front page. But part-time airship waitress and music hall dancer Julia Bairstow is shattered by her sister’s murder. When Lady Law, the most notorious private detective in Britain, offers to investigate the case pro bono, Julia jumps at the chance-even against the advice of Constable Al Grant, who takes her protection surprisingly to heart.
Lady Law puts Scotland Yard to shame. She’s apprehended Jack the Ripper and solved countless other cold-case crimes. No one knows how she does it, but it’s brought her fortune, renown and even a title. But is she really what she claims to be-a genius at deducting? Or is Al right and she is not be trusted?
Who exactly is Lady Law? This novella starts dramatically, with the aforementioned detective taking down an attacker at Queen Victoria’s awards ceremony, and continues at a quick pace. Along the way we meet the adventurer Horace Holly, who is drawn into the investigation and becomes suspicious of Lady Law and her methods.
There’s a bit of romance, some steampunk tech for the geek in everyone, and a lot of drama. The final twists were completely unexpected, and the ending was satisfactory. I would have loved to see this be a bit longer, so that I could enjoy it even more.
As this is a novella, I hesitate to give away too much of the plot, as every twist should be discovered by the reader and not in this review. I haven’t read much steampunk fiction, aside from Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke, but I am impressed with its imagination. I couldn’t put this one down. This is definitely a book worth reading. Pick it up directly from Carina Press or from Amazon’s Kindle Store.