Now that Inspector Lestrade, Irene Adler and Mycroft Holmes have all enjoyed adventures of their own, it’s Sherlock’s housekeeper’s turn.
Nathaniel Moran, late of the Sumatra and Nassau Trading Company, appears at Baker Street to tell a wild tale. He and his partners, who had the temerity to display a totemic rat they killed on the flagpole of their little outpost, were cursed by a native priest with catastrophic results: some two dozen natives dead and a sense of terror that pursued them back to England. Holmes finds the curse hard to credit, but Moran and his two surviving partners are clearly terrified of something that soon begins to claim their lives. While Holmes is busy making brilliant but trivial inferences about the case, Mrs. Hudson—assisted by her own Watson, the waiflike scullery maid Flotsam—ventures a series of quiet, shrewd deductions of her own. BBC producer/editor Davies’s first novel delicately negotiates the rivalry between Holmes and Hudson by rooting her detective work in domestic details (the state of the larder, the excellence of a soufflé) beneath the notice of a male detective who comes off as arrogant and condescending but still intelligent and generous in his limited way.
An unbelievable master criminal aside, the case itself, as the great man might say—and as Mrs. Hudson may well say herself one of these days—has distinct points of interest all its own.