cover image Irene at Large

Irene at Large

Carole Nelson Douglas. Tor Books, $19.95 (381pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85223-8

In a delightful encore, Victorian diva/detective Irene Adler Norton (last encountered in Good Morning, Irene ) engages in a battle of wits with Sherlock Holmes and a vicious killer seeking to hide a traitorous past. The savage-looking stranger who collapses on a Paris street in front of Irene and her friend, narrator Nell Huxleigh, is identified as Quentin Stanhope, a young officer whom Nell had once known. Regaining consciousness, Quentin tells a story of treachery and murder during the battle of Maiwand (part of the Afghanistan campaign nine years previously), when he served as a spy, code-named Cobra. He is seeking a physician by the name of Watson, who saved his life then and is now in grave danger from another secret agent, known only as Tiger. After Quentin disappears and Irene encounters a Capt. Sylvester Morgan, who advises her of his keen interest in cobras, Irene lures Holmes, just concluding the ``Naval Treaty'' case, into the hunt. Douglas has penned a delightful romp in this Victorian adventure novel about the only woman Sherlock Holmes ever admired, and indeed she lives up to the honor. (July)