cover image The 6 Messiahs

The 6 Messiahs

Mark Frost. Hyperion Books, $23 (404pp) ISBN 978-0-688-13092-3

In the first book of this clever series, The List of 7, Arthur Conan Doyle met the enigmatic Jack Sparks, a secret agent of sorts who inspired him to create the immortal Sherlock Holmes. Now, 10 years after his presumed death, a greatly changed Sparks reappears-just in time to save Doyle from assassins during a steamship crossing of the Atlantic. Bound for America on a celebrity author tour, Doyle has accidentally become involved in a terrifying scheme, which centers around the theft of great holy books from all over the world and the birth of an unspeakable menace in the Arizona desert. Several others are drawn to a new city outside Phoenix, where an old enemy awaits: Eileen Temple, Doyle's lover from the first book; as do an embittered Native American woman, a Chinese assassin, and a gentle and inquisitive rabbi. Several historical figures, too, make cameo appearances; a chance meeting with Teddy Roosevelt is pure delight, and a visit with Thomas Edison reveals an important plot point. Holmes devotees will be delighted by the way Frost alludes to familiar tales from the Sherlockian canon, and all readers should appreciate the wry contemporary touches that spice up this classical-style, slam-bang adventure. (July)