Final Bows for a Ballet Dancer & An Empire

Death in St. Petersburg


death in st petersburgLady Emily Series #14
by Tasha Alexander
Historical Mystery
Minotaur Books
Formats available: Hardback, Paperback, Electronic, Audio
Pub Date: 10.10.17| Pages: 304

REVIEWER: Sophia Rose


E-ARC provided by Net Galley for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.


After the final curtain of Swan Lake, an animated crowd exits the Mariinsky theatre brimming with excitement from the night’s performance. But outside the scene is somber. A ballerina’s body lies face down in the snow, blood splattered like rose petals over the costume of the Swan Queen. The crowd is silenced by a single cry— “Nemetseva is dead!”

Amongst the theatergoers is Lady Emily, accompanying her dashing husband Colin in Russia on assignment from the Crown. But it soon becomes clear that Colin isn’t the only one with work to do. When the dead ballerina’s aristocratic lover comes begging for justice, Emily must apply her own set of skills to discover the rising star’s murderer. Her investigation takes her on a dance across the stage of Tsarist Russia, from the opulence of the Winter Palace, to the modest flats of ex-ballerinas and the locked attics of political radicals. A mysterious dancer in white follows closely behind, making waves through St. Petersburg with her surprise performances and trail of red scarves. Is it the sweet Katenka, Nemetseva’s childhood friend and favorite rival? The ghost of the murdered étoile herself? Or, something even more sinister?






The Lady Emily series has been an engaging historical mystery story, romance, but also a feast for the senses. I’ve adored each time the series takes the reader to a Victorian era foreign setting with its lush descriptions of place, culture, society, historical backdrop and more. This latest installment was no exception.

I found myself enjoying it in a bittersweet way since I knew what events would follow this time in the lives of the Romanovs and the Russian people. This is the waning years of Czarist Russia. The cracks in Russian Society are apparent in this story and the extreme ends of ideology are growing louder. But set against this was a tale from the world of Russian Ballet. It didn’t delve into the details of the dance so much as the life of the dancers, particularly two dancers, Katenka and her best friend, the great Nemetseva.

Emily and Cecilie have accepted an invitation from Masha one of Cecilie’s friends to enjoy the Russian social season which also gives Emily the chance to join her husband Colin after the holidays with their family. Colin is on secret work for the British Crown and can’t share with Emily what he is doing no matter how much she wheedles. But the death of Nemetseva and the request of her lover give Emily a case to keep her busy.

A little side note/niggle. Over the last few books, I’ve slowly grown irritated with Emily while still enjoying everything and everyone else about the stories. This one, it really struck me that she takes a ‘you owe me all your secrets’ attitude and gets really pushy with people in her quest for the truth. She runs rough shod over sensibilities with little provocation or proof the person deserves it. She happened to be right sometimes, but other times, there are valid reasons why people aren’t forthcoming with all their personal thoughts. This is really a mild niggle though I suppose I’ve made it a big deal as a result of my own personal preference when it comes to that sort of thing.

As to the case, this one came along slowly with lots of racing back and forth between the suspects and witnesses between times of social activity. It is also told in a split plot line of the past for the two ballerinas and the present with Emily solving the murder. While it wasn’t exciting until near the end, the slow pace  of detecting and of the story lines were engaging. I enjoyed the immersion into that historic world while turning my mind to the investigation. I got an early suspicion and it turned out my instinct for the solution was correct though I can’t take credit since I had no real reason for my suspicion.

All in all, it was another solid book in the Lady Emily series and left me with a thirst to find more books on this period in Russian history. I can recommend this series for those who enjoy lady amateur detectives in a historical setting and some interesting detecting adventures.

I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.


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