Friday, May 5, 2023

The Last Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes and Lucy James #1), by Charles Veley

Thomas & Mercer, November 2015

Mycroft Holmes takes the unusual step of visiting his brother Sherlock and Dr. Watson at 221B Baker Street, to summon them to an important meeting at the Diogenes Club. The meeting will involve the Prime Minister and other senior ministers, and concern a planned conference with important American businessmen--for highly sensitive reasons. 

At the meeting at the Diogenes Club, they learn the Prime Minister believes word has leaked and there may be an attack planned on this conference. It would be a major embarrassment to the government--and as events unfold, Holmes and Watson become increasingly irked that avoiding embarrassment appears to be the biggest consideration. Little of Holmes's security advice is headed; his brief is simply to prevent the attack while his advice is ignored.

A man is found dead, and is discovered to be an employee of John D. Rockefeller Sr., who of course is one of the prominent businessmen involved. When Inspector Lestrade, Holmes, and Watson attend the examination of the body, it's Holmes who realizes the man was not drowned, as initially believed, but suffocated with chloroform. Mr. Rockefeller's head of security was murdered. Shortly thereafter, a carriage is blown up with dynamite, outside the hospital--and inquiry into existing records shows that a very large amount of dynamite has been stolen over the past year. Something truly dangerous is afoot.

It's six years after Moriarty died, and Holmes was believed to have died, at the Reichenbach Falls. Since his return, Holmes has been keeping a low profile, but investigating this case takes him out more into public than he has until now. One of those necessary ventures is to the D'Oyly Carte Opera, housed at the Savoy Theatre--next to the Savoy Hotel, where the dead man was staying, and John D. Rockefeller Jr. is staying. This is far less conspicuous than going to see Rockefeller Sr. on his yacht.

However, while at the theatre, they encounter two women--a young American singer, who has recently been added to the chorus, by the name of Lucy James, and an older woman, Zoe Rosario, a violinist of considerable talent. Miss James has her own concerns to present to Holmes, and is both close to Rockefeller Jr., and very, very observant, making her a useful contact. Miss Rosario, among other interesting features, refers to Holmes as Sherlock, while Holmes quite clearly is avoiding her. This turns out to be more closely related to the main mystery than there is initially any reason to suspect.

The main story has Holmes and Watson trying to track down the real identity of, and an actual London residence of, Mr. Adam Worth, a principal investor in the D'Oyly Carte Opera, whom Mr. Carte admits to some serious doubts about, and has been trying to replace. Where is he from? What is his real background? And why do his properties seem to figure in the disturbing events surrounding the planned conference, while also seeming completely uninhabited?

There's a lot going on here, with some very interesting twists and turns along the way. It's a very interesting and ultimately satisfying story, grounded in the Holmes and Watson we know, and in the real history of the period.

I'm looking forward to reading more of these.

I received this book as a gift.

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