cover image No One Notices the Boys

No One Notices the Boys

Michelle Birkby. Felony & Mayhem, $26 (298p) ISBN 978-1-63194-244-0

In Birkby’s solid sequel to 2019’s All Roads Lead to Whitechapel, Sherlock Holmes’s landlady, Martha Hudson, and her best friend, Mary, Dr. Watson’s wife, once again take center stage. In 1889, after the case of the Baskerville hound is solved, Martha has surgery to clear a stomach obstruction. One night, while recuperating at the hospital, she believes she witnesses the murder of a patient in an adjoining bed. When Martha wonders the next morning whether she dreamed it, Watson speculates that the painkillers she’s on may have played a part. With that unresolved, Mary hands Martha another mystery—boys have gone missing from the streets of London for decades without anyone apparently noticing, their disappearances possibly connected to the legendary Pale Boys, who are rumored to never grow old, eat, or drink. The vague nature of the evidence leads the pair to investigate on their own. Sherlockians won’t mind that Birkby alters the story of the Baskerville hound to make Holmes more rattled by the creature than he was in Conan Doyle’s telling. This is a significant improvement over the first book in the series. Agent: Jane C. Judd, Jane Judd Literary (U.K.) (Dec.)