It was only a matter of time, and now it’s happened at last: Sherlock Holmes gets called to jury duty.
The person who answers the summons is not, of course, the fictional Holmes, of whom solicitor Nigel Heath has already had more than his fill, presiding as he does (with his absent brother, Reggie) over the Baker Street Law Chambers (Moriarty Returns a Letter, 2014, etc.). When Her Majesty’s Crown Court, following the thousands of other naifs who’ve written to Holmes at 221B Baker St. over the years under the impression that he's a real person, sends him a summons to jury duty, Nigel tosses it out the window. And that would be that, if only the same mail delivery didn’t bring Nigel’s own summons and if, upon his selection as an alternate juror in the third murder trial of celebrated cricket star Liam McSweeney for killing his wife, he didn’t perceive in Siger—a fellow alternate who constantly quotes the Sacred Writings, makes Sherlock-ian inferences about the other jurors, and interrupts the trial by asking pointed questions—the likely finder of the summons he discarded. Both Nigel and Siger (“the longer form is Sigerson, but that’s been overused,” the mysterious alternate informs him, doubtless aware of its Holmes-ian connections) will have their hands full, since someone seems intent on promoting at least some of the five alternates to full participation by sidelining the jurors who have been duly impaneled. When Nigel’s own question of a witness leads the entire jury, along with the judge, the bailiff, and the court steward, on an outing to McSweeney’s estate on an island off the Devon coast, savvy readers will pick up the scent of another classic mystery, and they’ll be rewarded by still another stream of in-jokes and sly cross-references.
Robertson, who seems to command an unlimited stream of clever ideas for recycling the Holmes legend without resuscitating the great man, outdoes himself in the most effervescent of his five Baker Street cocktails to date.