cover image The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls

The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls

John R. King, . . Forge, $25.95 (350pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-1801-5

King’s muddled alternate version of the epic final battle between Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty teams the Baker Street sleuth with William Hope Hodgson’s Thomas Carnacki, a detective who often contends with the supernatural. Carnacki happens to be present in Switzerland in 1891 to witness the struggle between Holmes and Moriarty above the Reichenbach Falls recounted in Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Final Problem.” After Carnacki and an attractive young woman, Anna Schmidt, rescue an amnesiac Holmes from the rapids, the trio dodge bullets from the professor, who turns out to be Anna’s father. As Holmes gradually regains his faculties, Moriarty chases them across the continent. Flashbacks to the master criminal’s youth offer a surprising if gimmicky explanation for his turn to evil. Despite the author’s obvious affection for the characters, he fails to provide a plot that does justice to his intriguing premise. (July)