cover image The Fifth Heart

The Fifth Heart

Dan Simmons. Little, Brown, $28 (624p) ISBN 978-0-316-19882-0

In Paris in 1893, Sherlock Holmes and Henry James join forces in this outstanding novel from Simmons, who has concocted something far from the usual pastiche, with a historical figure standing in for Dr. Watson. James, the distinguished American author, is about to kill himself by plunging into the Seine, overcome by crippling depression. Just before stepping off le pont Neuf, he notices a man with an aquiline profile standing nearby; he quickly ascertains that the man is actually Holmes, believed to have perished with Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls two years earlier. James is shocked to learn that Holmes was himself on the verge of taking his own life—because the detective has discovered that he’s merely a “literary construct.” His evidence? The same inconsistencies in the original Conan Doyle stories that have provided fodder for Sherlockians for a century. This chance meeting dissuades both men from committing suicide, and they resolve to travel to America and investigate the purported suicide of diplomat Henry Adams’s wife, Clover, in 1885. Simmons (Drood) knows the Holmes canon and uses that expertise in the service of a highly original reimagining of the beloved sleuth. Five-city author tour. Agent: Richard Curtis, Richard Curtis Associates. (Mar.)