The Last Moriarty
A lovely young American actress from the D’Oyly Carte Opera Troupe comes to 221B Baker Street on a cold November morning, desperately seeking assistance from Sherlock Holmes. Inexplicably, Holmes agrees to help, even though the Prime Minister of England and his cabinet need Holmes to solve a murder case that could threaten a high-stakes meeting with John D. Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan. The clock is ticking. Holmes will need all his physical and deductive powers to preserve innocent lives and prevent political and economic chaos on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet even Holmes cannot foresee how much the ultimate outcome will depend on a mother’s sacrifice, a daughter’s hopes, and on the true identity of the last Moriarty.
A meeting between captains of industry is threatened. Men connected with the upcoming meeting keep turning up dead, and all signs indicate that a criminal organization on par with the defunct Moriarty gang is responsible. Possibly even the successor of the Moriarty gang, as Colonel Sebastian Moran has escaped from prison, and he had help.
Into the mix is thrown a young actress, Lucy James, whose ties to this shadowy organization grow ever more perplexing and sinister as she enlists Holmes’s help to hunt for her true parents. At the same time, both Miss James’s plight and the murderous plot begin to shed light on Sherlock Holmes’s past.
The writing is lovely, and amazingly faithful to the source. It’s very rare to find pastiche that really has the sound and the feel of Conan Doyle’s writing. Watson’s voice is authentic, and at no point was I drawn out of the story by awkwardly modern – or awkwardly Victorian – language.
It is also very well researched, with that strong sense of place that is so essential to mystery and to Holmesian mystery particularly. Well researched without being a treatise on Victoriana. Some works have a tendency to lift passages straight from textbooks, but all of Veley’s references feel natural.
I have to mention the cover, as well. I love the cover. Love it.
Much of the story was, sadly, predictable, and the foreshadowing heavy-handed. Certain twists were not so much hinted as laid out. Nothing ever really surprised me, and the mystery was thin.
I would also have liked more sleuthing, more of the hunting and connecting that ought to characterize Holmes stories. I’d characterize this one more as suspense than mystery, which I suppose is all right, but wasn’t what I was expecting.
Veley’s Holmes is an emotional sort. I am not one of those who thinks Holmes should always be an emotionless machine – he shows himself in Canon to feel strongly, though he generally keeps his feelings under tight control. In the context of Veley’s storyline, I feel that the little displays of affection, distress, and concern were entirely appropriate, but I do know that many aficionados would take issue.
I enjoyed this one. I finished it in two sittings, which has been an increasingly rare occurrence for me. It did not blow me away, but the end hints at a coming sequel, and I will certainly look for it when it arrives.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.