In this debut mystery, famed detective Sherlock Holmes and partner Dr. Watson face a villain obsessed with procuring the recently discovered Marseille Nike.
Sherlock Holmes receives a perfumed letter, written with disappearing ink, that piques his curiosity. It’s from Mlle. Emmeline La Victoire, alias Cherie Cerise, the “chanteuse extraordinaire” performing at the Chat Noir in Paris. Her young son, Emil, is missing. The Earl of Pellingham is Emil’s father, which coincides with Mycroft Holmes’ investigation into the earl’s affairs, including the deaths of four orphans. Accompanied by Dr. Watson, Sherlock travels to Paris, where they meet not only Mlle. La Victoire but her lover, the unscrupulous French detective Jean Vidocq. He is after information concerning the missing Nike statue. Later that evening, during Emmeline’s performance, a violent attack backstage forces the small group to find safety in the home of artist Henri Toulouse-Latrec, where Sherlock convinces Emmeline that Emil is hidden safely in England and to return with him to Baker Street. Mycroft will give Emmeline the address where Emil is hidden, provided Sherlock returns to Lancashire, impersonating art expert Fritz Prendergast, whom the earl has never seen, with Watson posing as Prendergast’s attending physician, Dr. Laurel. On the train to Lancashire, Sherlock sees a photograph of the dead children in a folder, and his resolve hardens. As the mystery deepens, MacBird skillfully interweaves fact with fiction while remaining faithful to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original imagining of Sherlock Holmes, especially regarding his idiosyncrasies with both drug addiction and the recklessness he exhibits toward his own life, which could also be viewed as an addiction. She reinterprets his detective skills as being hereditary from the French side of his family, famous for its artists: “Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms,” Sherlock once said. “And so it was for him,” Watson says—“but his artistry went much deeper than that. In my view it was at the very root of his remarkable success as the world’s first consulting detective.”
A worthy addition to the adventures of Sherlock Holmes.