Mary Russell and her hubby the beekeeper slog through India in the thinly plotted seventh of this Sherlockian series (Justice Hall, 2002, etc.).
Though legally espoused to the great detective, Mary still insists on answering to Miss Russell. Considering how diminished a figure her husband’s become in these pastiches, is that a foreshadowing? Will the day arrive when the once iconic Holmes tamely answers to Mr. Russell? Squirmy thought, and yet clearly this, even more than any of its forerunners, is Mary’s book, with Holmes turning up now and again like an ex–star athlete at an old-timer’s event. New Year’s Day 1924 finds Russell and Holmes comfy in their “snug stone house on the Sussex Downs” (oh beekeeper, where is thy stinger?)—an idyll, however, about to end abruptly. Mycroft, Holmes’s older, allegedly smarter, brother, whose work in behalf of the Empire is ceaseless if largely unchronicled, has a mission in mind. The pair is to rescue Kim—yes, Kimball O’Hara, the hero of Kipling’s children’s story, now a valued agent of British intelligence, who’s suddenly gone missing. Accepting as always Mycroft’s mission, Russell and Holmes march off to find the purloined Kim. But what a draggy march it is, hobbled by space-filling digressions and inelegant backstory, until topped off at the end by some non-ratiocinative razzle-dazzle. Where are you when we need you, Dr. Watson?
The game may be afoot, but the pace is mostly funereal.