The diabolical (and misunderstood) criminal genius turns sleuth to clear his name, perhaps finding the missing Sherlock Holmes in the process.
In a prologue, Dr. Watson narrates the unfortunate tale of his companion’s disappearance. Holmes has been retained by the Bank of England to protect a shipment of gold expected soon. Researching the underground tunnels that he deduces will be the robbers’ ingress to the bank, Holmes climbs down a manhole ladder on King William Street and vanishes, at which point the story shifts to the third person and Calcutta, where the Empress of India, the cargo ship carrying both the gold and Margaret St. Yves, the lovely daughter of starchy Brigadier General Edward, is about to set sail. Back in London, Holmes’s hefty brother Mycroft implicates arch-rival Moriarty, who calmly professes his innocence but privately frets over his damaged reputation. He joins the passengers of the Empress, whose list rivals that of Agatha Christie’s Orient Express in eccentricity and shadiness. Foremost in the latter category are the creepy Artful Codger and Pin, who lie in wait for the antihero. There’ll be much eyebrow raising and Victorian drollery before the satisfactory solution.
The fourth Moriarty novel by the prolific Kurland (The Great Game, 2001, etc.) carries forward the never-ending franchise with authentic flavor.