Those who volunteer for the Admiralty’s most delicate missions, even on an ad hoc basis, never have an idle hour, but this latest assortment of errands for Mycroft Holmes o’erflows the measure. Sherlock’s larger brother (The Flying Scotsman, 1999, etc.) has been asked by Sir Cameron MacMillian to represent him in the negotiations with the suddenly wealthy German ex-wife whose money he’s eager to be reconciled to; he’s been invited by Sir Marmion Hazeltine to visit the asylum where he’s made such remarkable strides with the criminally insane; he’s been beseeched by the Turkish visitor Halil Kerem to find the brother who’s been kidnapped and sold into slavery; and there are signs that Jacobbus Braaten, vilest of all the international terrorists in the dread Brotherhood, has returned to Britain to work more deviltry against the Crown. Under the circumstances, the sodden Sir Cameron seems the safest companion—until one of the aides to Lady MacMillian’s German envoy is poisoned right under Holmes’s nose, and he realizes that the Brotherhood fiends who shot an Admiralty courier outside his house won’t be satisfied till they’ve killed him as well. Fortunately, Holmes is armored with such a doughty domestic establishment—his secretary Paterson Guthrie, his manservant Philip Tyers, his groom Sid Hastings, even Penelope Gatspy of the shadowy Golden Lodge—that any real danger is purely coincidental.
Like the continuing cast of heroes, helpers, and villains, everything else—the political conflicts, the unspeakable evil, the bluff xenophobia—are as casually stipulated as in a James Bond knockoff, minus the urgency and the sense of personal style.