At the start of MacBird’s impressive first novel and series launch, Sherlock Holmes sets his rooms at 221B Baker St. on fire. Fortunately, he’s not hurt, though he’s obviously under some emotional stress, as his friend Dr. Watson discovers, perhaps related to the investigation of the recent Ripper murders. He has also spent some time in jail of late, for reasons that I suspect will become clear in a subsequent adventure. Soon Holmes and Watson are off to Paris on the behalf of Mademoiselle La Victoire, a beautiful French singer who fears that her 10-year-old son, Emil, has been kidnapped.
The action shifts eventually to Lancashire, where Emil’s father, a wealthy earl who collects art, has an estate. The intricate plot also involves a stolen Greek statue and the murders of boy factory workers. Mycroft Holmes operates behind the scenes, as is his custom, though his relations with his brother are tense. Why this is so no doubt will be revealed in a future installment. No superman, Holmes takes some serious physical knocks by the end of the exciting, cinematic climax.
MacBird, who has had a long and successful career in Hollywood, certainly knows her Doyle, but as she admits in her acknowledgments, her vulnerable, fallible Holmes owes a lot to such screen incarnations as Jeremy Brett, Robert Downey, Jr., and Benedict Cumberbatch. Fans of these modern interpreters of the great detective will find plenty to like. Those expecting the Victorian discretion of Doyle’s originals should be prepared for some shocks.
Full disclosure: the author is a college classmate of mine.