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Review: 'The Lost Plot' series hits its stride

The Invisible Library series has finally hit its stride with “The Lost Plot,” the fourth book in the series. Irene and Kai are finally coming into their own as Cogman becomes more familiar with their voices and the complex world she has built involving multiple versions of the known world with varying ranges of chaos involving the manipulative fae and order involving the control-loving dragons.

The last three books in the series have mainly dealt with the fae and the chaos their involvement in each of the alternate worlds Cogman creates. The reader’s exposure to the dragons or order side of the universe has mainly been through Irene’s interactions with Kai and a few of his family members. “The Lost Plot” deals directly with dragon politics and as a result, readers learn more about the ins and outs of the dragons and their political machinations, which ultimately adds more depth to the world and more trouble for Irene and Kai.

In “The Lost Plot,” Irene and Kai are caught between two dragons who are trying to gain a place of prominence. Much light is shed on how the dragons order their world and how the hierarchy of moving up in the ranks. Of course, this causes some friction as Irene and Kai need to keep a low profile because of their library duties as they try to prevent an alternate version of prohibition era Chicago from being torn to shreds. But, as is often the case, the situations that arise rarely allow Irene and Kai to keep their low profile and this alternate version of Chicago presents some interesting ways to hide while remaining front and center.

Cogman fills “The Lost Plot” with colorful characters and even Irene must take a more colorful role as a famous female crime boss. Since the version of Chicago in “The Lost Plot” is set during prohibition, there are quite a few run-ins with suspicious police officers and rival crime bosses. The best tropes of the prohibition era shine throughout — there’s a daring escape from a speak-easy, an uneasy interrogation from the police and a quiet moll who’s more than what she seems. All of these elements are woven together to create a fast-paced narrative.

This latest installment in The Invisible Library series does veer away from the ongoing Alberich storyline present in the first three books. While it did seem at the end of book 3 that Alberich was gone for good, he has offered some of the deepest insights into Irene and the history of the Library. There are hints throughout “The Lost Plot,” most of them coming directly from Irene, that perhaps readers have not seen the last of Alberich, Irene’s own personal Moriarity.

“The Lost Plot” could be read as a stand-alone novel. Irene and Kai work together on a singular mystery, solve it and are ready to move on to the next adventure. At the conclusion of the story, there seems to be little connection to the large plot strings present in books one, two and three. Ultimately, “The Lost Plot” is full of action as any good story involving prohibition era America should. The novel wraps up quickly with Irene and Kai moving on to their next adventure, which currently does not have a release date.

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