More international intrigue awaits Sherlock Holmes and his wife, omnicompetent and unflappable Mary Russell, in 1924 Morocco.
Since T.E. Lawrence has been occupied elsewhere, the French and Spanish forces who’ve occupied Morocco since World War I have achieved nothing but an expensive standoff. Now along comes a new complication. A pair of rebels, Mohammed bin Abd-el-Krim and his military strategist brother (actually his cousin) M’hammed, have declared the Mohammed Emir of the Rifi Republic and defied Morocco’s Resident General, Maréchal Louis Hubert Gonzalve Lyautey. If you’re King (The Art of Detection, 2006, etc.), this volatile true-life situation demands the steady hand of Sherlock Holmes, whom Ali Hazr, a spy for His Majesty, wants to accompany Lyautey to a sit-down with the two Rifi leaders to talk peace. Holmes, naturally, thinks Russell, who’s been doing some acting nearby for filmmaker Randolph Fflytte, would be an ideal interpreter for this mission. As the tale begins, however, Russell awakens from what was pretty clearly her abduction with no idea of where or who she is. Even after a generous round of adventures reunites her with Holmes, she’s slow to recognize him or remember anything about their life together. That’s just as well, because most of what follows is more derring-do, leading to a sequence in which Russell and Holmes are chained in the Mequinez dungeon Habs Qara; virtually all the mystification and detection, not to mention all the surprises, are saved for the final chapters, whose torrent of revelations is more dizzying than anything that’s led up to them.
Both Holmes and Russell are muffled, and the story requires a good deal of potted history. More likely to appeal to lovers of Morocco than lovers of Sherlock Holmes.