The fifth and final book of “The Parasol Protectorate” confronts Lady Alexia Maccon, née Tarabotti, and her team of supernatural sleuths, with a mystery that reaches back into ancient Egypt. Intertwined with this mystery are a present-day murder case, a dark secret that threatens to break up the pack of werewolves led by Alexia’s Alpha husband, and the lingering puzzle of the father she never knew. And so a racy, funny series of romantic whodunits, blending vampires, werewolves, 1870s steampunk, and complex but convincing world-building, comes to an exciting and richly satisfying conclusion.
The victim is Dubh, the Beta werewolf of Scotland’s Kingair pack. He drops dead at Alexia’s feet, pierced by an assassin’s bullet just before he can reveal a secret that has something to do with Egypt and the God-Breaker Plague. For those of you who missed Changeless, this is an area in which vampires and werewolves turn into mortals, and ghosts are simply exorcised. Earlier in the series it was established that the GBP is connected with the rare type of person Alexia is: a preternatural, or soulless, whose touch has the same effect.
Now, for reasons that can’t be unconnected to whatever Dubh has found out, the Queen of the Alexandria Hive has commanded Alexia to attend her, and bring her metanatural daughter (don’t ask). This is serious. The Egyptian vampire queen is only the oldest vampire in existence. And though little Prudence is under the protection of Lord Akeldama, the flamboyant vampire who presides over London fashion, Queen Matakara’s interest in her is unlikely to be a good thing. Prudence’s abilities are even more of a threat to supernatural types than her mother’s—and only Alexia’s touch can control them.
One noisy, colorful voyage by train and steamship later, Alexia arrives in Egypt with her husband, child, and a whole troupe of actors led by her flighty friend Ivy Tunstell. Ivy and her husband have infant twins of their own, and when one of them is kidnapped from their hotel, Alexia and Conall set out in pursuit. Or so they think. Actually their strange journey into the heart of Egypt will lead them to an even stranger and more dangerous discovery than who kidnapped baby Primrose. While pack politics back at home is turned upside-down by an untimely revelation, an autumn-spring romance (Adult Content Advisory!), a bit of keen detective work, and the emergence of an unexpected talent for lycanthrope leadership, Alexia must walk alone—ever so alone—into the lair of a hive of vampires poised on the edge of madness.
Could there by a more nasty place to end my synopsis? Hear me chuckle with evil glee! But although the whole series comes to a well-shaped climax in this book, be not dismayed. Gail Carriger is not yet done with Alexia’s fascinating world. Besides a series of graphic novels based on this series, there is also a spinoff series titled “Finishing School,” of which it is rumored there will be at least four books; the two already published are Etiquette and Espionage and Curtsies and Conspiracies. A second spinoff series, titled “The Custard Protocol,” looks like it will feature the grown-up Prudence.