Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Book Review: City of Shadows by Victoria Thompson (Counterfeit Lady #5)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun caper with great characters
Cons: Only some of the (conmen) characters
The Bottom Line:
Stopping medium
Fun caper and characters
A pleasant entry

Target: A Fake Medium

I look forward to each new entry in the Counterfeit Lady series from Victoria Thompson.  They feature such a unique premise which created unique plots.  The characters are warm, helping draw us into the stories.  City of Shadows is the newest, and it’s another winner.

This book sends us to New York City in 1919 as Elizabeth Miles Bates and Gideon Bates are back from their honeymoon.  They are an unlikely couple as Gideon is the son of a wealthy and respected family while Elizabeth is the daughter of a conman, and has been raised with all those skills.  While she tries to give us that life, she keeps finding herself in situations where she needs to use those skills to help her new friends from falling prey to other’s schemes.

This book starts with a plea for help from Elizabeth’s best friend, Anna Vanderslice.  Anna’s mother has started visiting a medium in an effort to connect to Anna’s deceased brother.  The problem is that the Vanderslices haven’t been left with that much money, so they don’t have the extra cash that the thrice weekly visits are taking.

Elizabeth goes along on one of the sessions and it quickly confirms that the medium is a fake.  But it’s Gideon who begins to see the bigger picture of what the fake medium is up to.  Will Elizabeth be able to put her skills to use to help the Vanderslices and the others falling prey to this medium?

As I said, these novels don’t follow a traditional mystery structure since they are more capers than mysteries.  We know who the villain is early on, and the fun comes in watching Elizabeth try to outmaneuver them.  This one was a bit more straightforward than some of the other cases Elizabeth has gotten involved in.  That’s not to say that I wasn’t entertained the entire way through, and there were a few branches to the story I wasn’t expecting.  I was completely satisfied with the outcome, too.

What makes this series fun is the characters.  There’s a good mix of people familiar with the con and civilians (or marks).  That not only gives us an in for explanations of what is going on, but it also allows for plenty of humor as the various characters are reacting to the events as they unfold.  I laughed quite a bit as I was reading.

Yes, the book is told from multiple points of view, but it is always clear whose head we are in for each scene, and that allows us to see everything as it unfolds since no one character is part of every aspect of the story.

I also appreciate how the characters are growing.  We are only five books into the series, but we’ve already seen some significant growth in many of these characters.

You could certainly jump into the series here and enjoy this adventure, but it will be so much richer if you started from the beginning.  Since the entire series is fun, you won’t regret it for a minute.

If you are looking for a little something different in your crime reading, I definitely recommend City of Shadows.  Whether this is your first visit with Elizabeth or you are already a fan, you’ll enjoy every page.

Check out the rest of the Counterfeit Lady Mysteries.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book.


  1. Thanks so much for the kind words! So glad you enjoyed it.

  2. I need to pick up this series again. I love her Gaslight series and I absolutely loved the first book but haven't continued with it past the 2nd book.


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