Dr. Watson teams up with the son of Holmes’ landlady to investigate the death of the celebrated sleuth in this Arthur Conan Doyle–inspired novel.
Holmes is really gone this time, Dr. Watson notes in his journal. The detective didn’t die at Reichenbach Falls 21 years ago; he resurfaced a few years later, eventually retiring to Sussex. Now, though, Holmes is truly dead, his body just found, with blunt-object injuries, in a granary in Kent. Watson goes to Baker Street to discuss the news with Mrs. Hudson, Holmes’ former landlady. Her son Christopher, now living in Holmes’ flat and contemplating medical school, asks to see the body and then declares that Holmes actually died being run over by a car of a recent make, most likely a 1912 Renault. Watson also travels to Bedlam to probe Holmes’ incarcerated nemesis Professor Moriarty, who asks to attend the funeral. Holmes’ will is then read, revealing an odd behest to provide ongoing monies to Delilah Church, one of the “Baker Street Irregulars” street kids who helped Holmes in his work. Her appearance at Holmes’ funeral, where Moriarty kills his guard before being hauled back to Bedlam, further convinces Christopher and Watson to find out what was really going on with Holmes. In alternating journal entries, they detail their journey through the social strata, which includes interactions with Wiggins, the Irregulars leader–turned–crime boss, various police officials and an aristocratic MP perhaps in Moriarty’s pocket. The case concludes with a fiery showdown that plays out the consequences of some disappointing (particularly to Watson), years-earlier action by Holmes. Holmes fans will likely be tickled by Fable’s tale, which amusingly brings Watson into the early 20th century, contending with a motorbike-riding, jeans-wearing Christopher and even a suffragette rally. The mystery plot gets a bit tangled at times, with an array of players and incidents, yet this also produces the kind of narrative Gordian knot that Holmes aficionados will relish. Overall, it’s a fun, fine setup for a new series pairing Watson with a plucky young partner.
Entertaining, Downton Abbey–era addition to the Holmes homage canon.