cover image Sherlock Holmes: The Spirit Box

Sherlock Holmes: The Spirit Box

George Mann. Titan (, $12.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-781160-02-2

Mann opens more strongly than he closes in his second Holmes novel (after 2013's Sherlock Holmes: The Will of the Dead). In 1915, Watson is feeling the butcher's bill of WWI personally. His nephew, the last of the family line, was killed in France, just "another forgotten face, another entry in the tally chart of the dead." He gets a welcome distraction from his personal woes when he's summoned to Victoria Station, asked by Holmes to help with a new case. London has been beset by a series of odd suicides: a British Army officer threw himself into the tiger enclosure at the London Zoo, a suffragette jumped in front of a train, and a Member of Parliament plunged himself into the Thames. All three high-profile victims opposed British involvement in the war. The probe takes an odd turn when a search of MP Herbert Grange's belongings turns up some portraits of the politician featuring the images of bizarre gaseous auras. The solution doesn't match the cleverness of the setup, and some of Holmes's deductions are less than convincing. (Aug.)