King’s two series had already been drawing closer together in Locked Rooms (2005), which sent Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell to San Francisco. Now Det. Kate Martinelli, SFPD (Night Work, 2000, etc.), meets Holmes, or at least a bunch of Holmesians.
Hours after Philip Gilbert’s body is found tucked into a gun emplacement in Golden Gate Park, the police check out his home near Russian Hill and conclude that he was an obsessive fan of Sherlock Holmes who collected Holmes memorabilia, headed a local Baker Street Irregulars offshoot called the Strand Diners, presided over its dinners in period attire and had recently come into possession of a revelatory manuscript. Unimpressed by the shadow of Holmes and originally skeptical about the manuscript, Kate changes her mind when she reads it. The embedded adventure, nearly 100 pages long, recounts the arrival of “Mr. Sigerson” (one of Holmes’s trademark pseudonyms) in San Francisco; his commission by a transvestite chanteuse to find her, or his, missing swain; and his discovery of the young man’s body in the exact place Gilbert’s own corpse would turn up 80 years later. Whodunit both times, and why has the second crime scene been made up so ritualistically to resemble the first?
One of the two solutions is a letdown, but King’s imagination is as generous as ever, and her use of the Sherlockian canon to ventilate contemporary issues is clever and impassioned.