“Dangerous to know” is the fifth book in the Lady Emily romance and suspense series by Tasha Alexander. It is set in Normandy in the 1890s where Colin Hargreaves, Emily’s husband and detective in the service of the Crown, has brought her to recover from the injuries she sustained at the end of the previous book, “Tears of Pearl.” While Colin no doubt meant well by bringing Emily to his family’s estate for her convalescence, however, her mother-in-law is less than welcoming to say the least, and so Emily is looking for any excuse to get out of the house. One day Emily is out riding, she finds the body of a brutally murdered young woman, Edith Prier, who escaped 6 months previously from a local asylum. The local police are inept as always, and so the stage is set for another Lady Emily mystery.
This book was a keenly awaited sequel after the heart-wrenching ending to “Tears of pearl.” I was therefore disappointed to find that, while we meet again some of my favourite characters from previous mysteries (Cecile du Lac and Sebastian Capet), this is in my opinion the most annoying and least enjoyable book so far in the series. Where Colin previously seemed like a very enlightened and liberal man for his time, he becomes so overprotective in this book that Emily’s usual independent streak, ability to fend for herself, and cunning detective skills disappear, making her instead look more like a damsel in distress in dire need of rescuing. (Can you really blame her mother-in-law for thinking Emily has a weak constitution and nothing more to commend her than a beautiful exterior?!)
Also, (spoiler alert if you haven’t read “Tears of pearl”!) while I think the author draws a fairly realistic picture of the grieving process Emily and Colin must go through after the loss of their unborn child, I quickly found Emily’s “ghostly” sightings of little girls, ribbons, and the like repetitive and boring. I also find it hard to believe that so enlightened a woman as Emily would begin to question her senses and believe in ghosts, rather than looking for a more natural explanation (well, eventually she does, of course, but she takes far too long in getting there!). Only towards the end of the book does the Emily we have come to know and love appear. Overall, therefore, I found this book disappointing and while it’s an easy read, I can’t help but feel that it is a transition book between the excellent “Tears of pearl” and, hopefully, better books to come.