THE GREAT GAME: A Professor Moriarty Novel

Michael Kurland, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-20891-2

In this deliciously complex and abundantly rewarding novel from the author of The Infernal Device (a novella collection featuring Moriarty), Europe in the 1890s is on the brink of political cataclysm. Well before the Nazis, an Aryan brotherhood is bent on toppling Europe's major governments. Meanwhile, on the Continent, a loose group of young English aristocrats uses the privileges of class to gain entry to royal courts and the uppermost echelons of power. Without official imprimatur, they begin "the Great Game," a nascent counter-intelligence movement. Disconnected information prompts Professor James Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes, separately, to depart England and hasten to Vienna. That such material entertains for page after page is a tribute to Kurland's remarkable talent. Multiple plots leapfrog across chapters in perfect pace. Surprises abound. The characters—whether European nobles, Americans abroad, anarchists plotting the new world order or a scene-stealing dwarf—are richly and convincingly portrayed. Dialogue sparkle with wit, erudition and unerring diction. The dwarf's cockney slang holds especial delights. This is no ordinary Holmes pastiche. Indeed, the Great Detective has little more than a cameo. Fans already acquainted with the author's brilliantly reconceived Moriarty, who is as much an advance over Conan Doyle's "Napoleon of Crime" as Shakespeare's Hamlet is over the historical Danish prince, likely pre-ordered this first full-length novel in the series as soon as they caught wind of it. Uncommon are the pleasures such writing affords. (Aug. 13)

Forecast:The Holmes pastiche label will be a turn-off for some, but the author's high reputation ( The Infernal Device, as well as a novel, A Plague of Spies, have been Edgar award finalists) should ensure sales far beyond those of the average Holmes spinoff.

Reviewed on: 07/30/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-312-30505-5
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4668-2674-8
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