** Femme Fatale, Carole Nelson Douglas, 2003
In the (to my knowledge) penultimate Irene Adler story, The Woman returns to her roots, America, drawn by a meddling Nellie Bly. People from her mostly forgotten childhood are dying by the cartloads and three people are on the case, working independently, Adler, Bly, and Holmes.
I loved the first few Irene books, but the further I go into the series, the lower the SNR (story to noise ratio) drops. By noise I mean things that don't move the story forward, such as discourses on fashion or religion or gender roles or women's rights or pages of banter between characters or back story relating what happened in previous books.
You expect some of this in the way of establishing character or sense of place or other of the little things authors do to keep a novel from turning into a screenplay. And to be sure, there is a certain amount of personal taste involved in determining the proper SNR, but I have a fairly liberal meter, as anyone who has read my novels knows.
But when you go twenty or more pages in a detective novel without anything of significance happening, the SNR is dangerously low.
So I've taken to skimming, which is practically against my religion. This saddens me because of how much I wanted to like the whole series as much as I liked the first few books. Oh well.