I’m of the opinion that the third book in a series can be really hard to pull off, especially when the first two books were just that awesome. I’m glad to say that while the third book in the Portia Adams Adventure series by friend and fellow writer Angela Misri is a bit darker than the previous two books, it’s still a great read and I enjoyed reading it from start to finish.
So if you’re unfamiliar with the book series, it follows Portia Constance Adams, a young woman who finds out she’s the granddaughter of John Watson (as in Holmes and Watson), and moves into 221B Baker Street and begins solving mysteries in 1930s London. The third book starts with Portia now known to the great wide world as the new consulting detective at 221B, and, in addition to a bit of annoying notoriety, she’s dealing with some rather upsetting aspects of being human. Namely, you sometimes argue with, and sometimes you even lose some friends.
These themes of struggle with your friends and loss are present throughout the book, and they can be either a plus or a minus, depending on the reader. In my case, I think I’ll go with a plus. Seeing Portia’s struggles with her friends, which often are somehow wrapped up with the cases she’s taking on, makes for great character development, and makes you want to read more to see how she resolves these problems. You also feel a lot of what Portia’s feeling as you read on, which shows how good Angela is at making you feel what the character feels.
I also found the cases in the story very compelling. Again, I struggled trying to figure out who the culprit or culprits were in each case, and each time I was pleasantly surprised (I’m better at figuring out culprits on crime shows than I am in the books, it seems). My favorite was the mystery “Principessa”, which follows the actual Princess Francesca Maria of the Italian royal family. It was pretty cool, seeing an actual figure from history in a historical mystery novel.
If there were things I thought could’ve been improved upon, I did think that the final casebook was a little crowded. So much was going on in that book–a strange death, a couple of odd men following a friend of Portia’s, and a suspicious psychologist–that it’s hard to keep track of what is part of which case when. That, and in the beginning of the last chapter, there’s a scene where Portia shows some really deep emotion, but it’s only glanced over. I really would’ve enjoyed seeing more attention paid to that scene, as I think it would’ve been a very memorable scene if that had been the case.
Other than that, I really enjoyed No Matter How Improbable. It was a great read, and I really can’t wait for the fourth book. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving it a 4.3 out of 5. Definitely check it out (and the first two books, too) if you have the chance.