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Chapel Noir: A Novel of Suspense featuring Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler, and Jack the Ripper

Chapel Noir: A Novel of Suspense featuring Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler, and Jack the Ripper

4.1 13
by Carole Nelson Douglas

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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


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 . . .

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Victorian opera diva/sleuth Irene Adler (in Arthur Conan Doyle's classic A Scandal in Bohmia, she was also the only woman to best Sherlock Holmes) assists Paris police as they investigate the brutal murders of several young women in a local brothel. Horribly, the murders remind Irene of Jack the Ripper's "work." A vastly entertaining tale; for fans of Holmesian and Victorian mysteries. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
After a seven-year hiatus, fictional editor Fiona Witherspoon at last presents the return of sleuth extraordinaire Irene Adler (Irene's Last Waltz, 1994, etc.). This fifth adventure of Sherlock Holmes's brash female rival sends her deep into a noirish Paris underground as the new Eiffel Tower soars high during its debut in spring 1889 at l'Exposition Universelle. While the world above celebrates humanity's technological advances, a series of savage, Ripper-like mutilations await the women of Paris below. Always a step behind Irene and her prudish companion/amanuensis Nell Huxleigh, Holmes tracks the women through catacomb, sewer, and Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis, revealing a knotty case of gender hatred and divided identity that, Irene claims, pushes him beyond his element. Always a step ahead, the reader is privy to the secret journal of the mastermind plotting a dastardly political use for a primitive killer. Meantime, the more appealing man in Adler's life, her barrister husband, Godfrey Norton, disappears in Transylvania, playing Jonathan Harker to the toothy "provincial satrap" he's seeking, and her sidekick Nell-proud as ever to be an ignorant Victorian female-falls prey to vampiric forces she little understands. The episode of Prince Albert at the Wild West Show probably isn't necessary to flavor this hearty stew. But somehow Irene's saga doesn't implode into a morass of historical data, Ripper lore, and exposition tours. Douglas cleverly balances tragedy and farce in a gentle mockery of period adventure and a ruthless depiction of all-too-contemporary hatreds.

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
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Irene Adler Series , #5
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Read an Excerpt

Somewhere in Paris
I often have this strange and moving dream of an unknown woman.…
from a journal
Saturday, May 18, 1889.
I must be strong and record my impressions before they fade.
Yet…no wonder my penmanship resembles the thin, palsied scrawl of a very old lady, though I am not yet twenty-five. My hand shakes despite myself, as my body shivers despite the snapping flames I sit so near.
I had hoped that my unconventional life thus far had prepared me to face disagreeable things, things that those who lead more circumscribed lives might call distasteful, even bizarre. Brutal. Shocking.
But this…where to begin?
With the beginning, I tell myself now. I take pride in not being the green girl I am taken for by the blind old eyes all around me. Buck up, my dear childish self! You are a mistress of deceit, and besides, the world will need to know the truth. Someday.
How odd it is that when one is assaulted by the unendurable that the mind fastens on the irrelevant.
So I stood alone and undiscovered on that horrible threshold and elected to notice that the center of the chamber was occupied by the most bizarre piece of furniture I had ever seen. A sort of barber's chair by way of Versailles.
Barber's chair. The phrase puts me in mind of Sweeney Todd, the murderous "demon" barber of Fleet Street in London, the city which I last visited before this one.
And, of course, thoughts of the barbarous Sweeney Todd made the rivulets of drying blood encrusting the chair's brocade into something more than…distant and gruesome embroidery.
Having forced my mind to admit what my eyes had already seen and repudiated by looking elsewhere, I forced my gaze to the figures that occupied the bloody appliance.
My first thoughts are unforgettable, and so unlike me, who has seen much unpleasantness from an early age:
I will not swoon.
I will not vomit.
I will not go mad.
Copyright © 2001 by Carole Nelson Douglass

Meet the Author

Carole Nelson Douglas is the author of the bestselling Midnight Louie series as well as the historical suspense series featuring Irene Adler, the only woman ever to have "outwitted" Sherlock Holmes. She resides in Fort Worth, Texas.

In addition to tales of Midnight Louie, Carole Nelson Douglas is also the author of the historical suspense series featuring Irene Adler, the only woman ever to have “outwitted” Sherlock Holmes.  Douglas resides in Fort Worth, Texas.

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Chapel Noir (Irene Adler Series #5) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
How many times was Conan Doyle himself accused of harboring ill feelings toward Auguste Dupine? After the millions of times he repeatedly told critics that the feelings of Holmes in no way reflect his own opinions, must we still ridicule Douglas for the ideas of her heroine, who happens to be a Victorian feminist? I am a non-feminist who found this book and its predecessors thoroughly entertaining. I also realize that many critics grow weary of Penelope's references to propriety. This book would lose much of its central theme without the contrasting characters of Penelope and Irene. Let's all try to stay open-minded in regards to our criticism of Douglas' work. She has very difficult footsteps to follow. So please remember, as Doyle once quoted, 'A doll and his maker are never the same.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
Carol Nelson-Douglas has given us yet another episode of 'Why Women Are Smarter Than Men'. Imagine the row that would follow if a man wrote such a novel! Yet it is so typical of the feminist breed that predictably has to rag on men (even Sherlock Holmes becomes an arrogant fool at the poison pen of Nelson-Douglas) and declare themselves superior at every turn. One suspects that a latent sense of inferiority and insecurity lies at the center of the self-declared superiority and smugness, which an interview with the author, contained at novel's end, does nothing to dismiss. Readable and entertaining as it is, I found the constant pounding at the anvil of radical feminism to be an annoying distraction, particularly since Nelson-Douglas' 'superior female', Irene Adler, owes her very existence to Sherlock Holmes. Keeping that in mind, we quickly realize that, despite what the author/character may do, say or declare, no matter what anti-male point is being driven home, the author/character owes her literary bread and butter to the male she most prefers to slander. More, absent the fact of Sherlock Holmes, no one would even bother to peruse these books, save for the hope of glimpsing the much maligned male entity on whom all is predicated.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Convoluted, Forced, and Disappointing. I adore the Irene Adler series and feel Chapel Noir did not live up to expectations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AngiliqueNY More than 1 year ago
Carol Nelson Douglass really out did herself on this Irene Addler adventure. A real page turner in her style of suspence and intrigue. Had me sitting on the edge of my seat until the last page.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It wasn't just the confusing narrations, or the overlong narrative, but to finish after 475 pages plus with an inconclusive ending is unfair to the reader. Nelson has done this consistently with her Midnight Louie series and still sells. It might not work with Irene, Nell, and Godfrey. Dr. Watson would never have played such a nasty trick.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The novel, at first, was relatively difficult to get into. The point of view changes several times within the first five chapters and it often confuses the reader as to which character is telling the story. However, it does establish a certain pattern, becoming more accessible. I am a fast and thorough reader, but this book took me a bit of time to get through. I'm glad I didn't give up because although it may not have been the best novel I've read, I certainly think it was a worthwhile one. When Castle Rouge, the sequel, comes out I will not hesitate to pick it up and continue the saga.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1889 American Irene Adler Norton resides in Paris with her beloved British husband Godfrey. At first the social swirl provides Irene with much distraction, but that quickly turns boring for the only known female to outwit and out-deduce the great Sherlock Holmes.

Thus, when the police, acting at the direction of a higher up, ask her to assist with the inquiries into the murders of prostitutes, Irene jumps at the opportunity. Upon seeing the brutalized corpse of the latest victim, a horrified Irene immediately thinks of London and Ripper. Unable to resist full involvement, Irene begins to investigate the grisly homicides only to find that once again she competes with the internationally renowned Holmes.

Anyone who enjoys the full Holmes pantheon (not just Doyle¿s prime piece of heaven) will want to read the first Irene Adler novel released in several years. The story line is exciting as Victorian Paris comes to life through the eyes of Irene and her shocked companion Nell. Holmes also plays a secondary but important role. The who-done-it is cleverly designed so that it is elementary to Dr. Watson that this novel is quite appealing. Fans of Holmes will want to read CHAPEL NOIR, Carole Nelson Douglas previous Adler novels and demand a shorter gap for her next appearance.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whatever... its not even 12 yet here lol... bye to the sleepers though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
-she kisses him back- &hearts &star
MycroftSC More than 1 year ago
Sherlock Holmes, Bram Stoker, the Duke of Windsor, and Buffalo Bill Cody all join "The Woman" in the hunt for Jack the Ripper at the Paris Exposition in late Victorian Paris. A page turning thriller, seasoned with historical details and possibilities. A delightful addition to the Holmes canon an the books of Nicholas Meyer and Laurie King.
R_E_Conary More than 1 year ago
"Chapel Noir" and "Castle Rouge" are two halves of one very, very long novel. You can't enjoy them separately, but that's no reason not to wade in with Irene Adler and Nell Huxleigh on another Victorian sleuthing and competition with the indomitable Sherlock Holmes.

This time, Carole Nelson Douglas offers a new analysis of the Jack the Ripper murders and examines old and new suspects for the role of "Saucy Jack" as her inquiry agent, Irene Adler, investigates Ripper-like crimes in Paris. For help, Irene enlists the real-life Bertie, Prince of Wales, Baron de Rothschild, Buffalo Bill Cody and Bram Stoker. She delves deeply into religious cult symbolism and mystery and discovers through Richard von Krafft-Ebing's "Psychopathia Sexualis" that the Ripper's slaughters are far from unique. As we could well tell her with such modern examples as Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Wayne Gacy.

In addition to Penelope Huxleigh's exhaustive diaries are observations from a mysterious yellow journal and from the journal of the irritating Pink, a supposed habitué of a Paris "maison de rendezvous." These lead us on a harrowing journey through Paris, London, Prague and Transylvania to the far-fetched, but possible, conclusion of this entertainingly dark novel.

As admirable as Irene Adler is, and the perfect foil for Sherlock Holmes, for me the best character in the series has been--and remains--the very human, Nell Huxleigh. This prim and proper parson's daughter has a taste for grue and gore that she continually denies, yet she won't be left out of the adventure despite her traditional upbringing. Nell's stretching and growing personality provides the dry and wry humor that permeates the series, and in this story she has ample opportunities to see herself in new lights.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Ok." She said still thinkin about her future name.