A trip to the Mayo Clinic plunges the famed sleuth into an adventure as perilous as the Reichenbach Falls.
When shortness of breath threatens even his sedentary retirement occupation of keeping bees in Sussex, Sherlock Holmes has no choice but to consult noted pulmonary expert Dr. Henry Plummer at the equally famed clinic in Minnesota. Plummer’s advice is uncompromising: no more three-pipe problems for Holmes. But hard as it is for the detective to give up tobacco, it’s even harder to give up the thrill of the chase. So, lured by a letter purporting to be from the Monster of Munich, a killer who littered the English Gardens of that city with corpses 28 years ago, Holmes leaves Rochester for the tiny hamlet of Eisendorf, founded in the early 20th century by Dionisius Eisen as a bastion of freethinking. The population of the town has dwindled to about 40—further reduced by the suspicious deaths of Hans Eisen and Bernhard Krupp—whose lives are dutifully chronicled by archivist Frederick Halbach. But what could simple townsfolk like Peter and Wolfgang Eisen, or Bernhardt’s widow Katherine, be hiding? Holmes’ quest takes him into uncharted territory as he spends night after night in a cottage behind Halbach’s house, determined not to leave Eisendorf until its every secret is revealed.
Millett (The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes, 2012, etc.) offers a novel Holmes: out of his urban element and uncharacteristically (and not always convincingly) caught up in the vagaries of the human heart. Even the flashbacks to Munich can’t redeem the American Gothic flavor of this pastiche.