Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson track a serial killer who seems inspired by the crimes of Jack the Ripper.
At the behest of Inspector Lestrade, Sherlock Holmes is summoned in 1899 to a bizarre murder scene at Stonehenge. In a case not unlike that of the infamous Whitechapel murders more than 10 years earlier, the corpse of a young woman has been found with its organs neatly arranged in a circle around it and various symbols painted on the body in blood. With his customary scholarly acumen, Holmes identifies the symbols as Druidic. His larger concerns are the victim’s identity and the reason she’s been sacrificially presented. Research reveals that Stonehenge is only one of several British locations with stone circles. Soon after Holmes predicts another murder, the body of a young man is found within the eye of the White Horse, a 300-foot-long monument embedded in the grass in Oxfordshire, complete with the same arrangement of organs and flora as the Stonehenge victim. As Holmes focuses on researching the symbols and investigating the Druidic conventions, Scotland Yard acts with glacial slowness in declaring the two murders connected. In the fall, the discovery of a third victim at Drizzlecombe lifts Holmes’ spirits considerably, adding new vigor to his sleuthing. Now that the game is finally afoot, he wastes no time in deducing a motive for the heinous crimes and ferreting out the killer.
This new pastiche from Ryan (The Stone of Destiny, 2017, etc.) provides nothing as satisfying as Arthur Conan Doyle’s banter between Holmes and Watson, but the Druidic detail and the depiction of 19th-century London are fascinating and delightful.