The world’s greatest detective confronts a Rupert Murdoch–like adversary.
Now thawed after years embedded in a Swiss glacier, Holmes is approached by Andrew Swann to investigate the biggest ongoing crime in Britain: the suppression of animal rights and the subversion of human democracy. Swann’s father, who retired after a career in Fleet Street, created the Rabbit Underground, an animal rights activist group whose legislative efforts have been squelched by media titan Gerald Gurloch. Gurloch’s fortune, which began with slaughterhouses and expanded to salacious tabloids, cybermalfeasance and political bribery, is now dedicated to three goals: Kill Sherlock Holmes, blow up Nelson’s Column and defame the queen. To achieve these ends, Gurloch buys up a Caribbean island from which to conduct nefarious enterprises. He hacks into Google and Scotland Yard’s files, putting pressure on Lestrade’s grandson, also a detective inspector, to resign. He corrupts Nigel Greenwood, current head of the Metropolitan Police. And he may just be underwriting professor Droon’s experiments on apes. Just what he has to do with the quiet deaths of Lord North and Sylvia Swann has yet to be proved. The quest to do so sends Holmes’ amanuensis, journalist James Wilson, scampering overseas and Holmes himself reconnoitering the Swiss Alps in his Aston Martin. Disguises come into play, as does a bit of code-breaking, the bickering of Gurloch’s twin daughters, Google-hacking under the nom de blog Black Swan and a master criminal’s gift of Dr. Watson’s little tin box of unpublished Holmes stories to Wilson. The denouement, which saves Lestrade’s job, defeats Gurloch and solves all the murders, finds Holmes facing his third deadly skirmish with death in peaceful Switzerland.
Sherlock-ians, as is their wont, may quibble, but lovers of ratiocination (Sherlock Holmes and the Swedish Enigma, 2012, etc.) will have a field day.