Sebastian Holmes’s brilliant father Sherlock and even more brilliant uncle Mycroft ship him off to America to thwart a German alliance on the eve of WWI.
At loose ends after graduating from Heidelberg, Sebastian is thrilled his forebears think him savvy enough to discover German sympathizers who will force the US to support the Kaiser. On the British side, Winston Churchill pulls the strings but schemes to avoid responsibility if Sebastian fails. The untried lad, armed with a fat bankroll to support his guise as a wealthy entrepreneur, a letter of introduction to an American merchant, and a code developed at an English public school, sets sail on the Lusitania along with stunning Anna Boinberg-Langesfeld, who initiates an affair with him. Once disembarking, Sebastian makes the rounds of cocktail parties, embassy soirées, and weekend shooting matches, where he learns that a congressman has died suspiciously. A senator quickly follows suit, and Sebastian is tailed, assailed, and kept guessing about whom to trust among his new acquaintances. Meanwhile, coded telegrams cross the Atlantic, lovely Anna keeps popping up, and munitions are headed for Germany unless he can stop them, a task complicated by the death of a double agent and an explosion.
Forget the shaky premise—that while recovering from his fall at Reichenbach, Holmes fathered a son he’s now jealous of—and enjoy the mastery Freemantle (Kings of Many Castles, 2002, etc.) shows of historical personages, political chicanery, and heroic derring-do.