OMGoodness! This was an exciting, suspenseful, page-flipping, breath-holding, nerve-jangling, heart palpating read. Holmes thought she and her cohorts had managed to obscure their involvement in the Chateau Vaudrieu case (The Art of Theft) where Moriarty was dealt a significant blow. However, it seems that isn’t the case because they are now being watched – the watchers have even rented two flats near their home. One flat has a view of the front and the other flat has a view of the rear. While they don’t like the watchers, they can deal with them. But then, Moriarty himself makes an appearance and asks for Charlotte’s help. Heavens, how she’d love to decline! Since she cannot safely decline the request, she’ll just have to accept and then be alert for whatever behind-the-scenes machinations he is performing. Has Moriarty, now known as Mr. Baxter, finally ensnared the brilliant Sherlock Holmes?
Moriarty’s request is that Holmes travel to the Garden of Hermopolis in Cornwall and assure that his daughter is well. Holmes knows there is more to the request than meets the eye, but she, Mrs. Watson, Lord Ingram, and Mr. Mears leave for Cornwall the very next day. There are some strange goings-on at the Garden and Holmes begins to worry that something sinister may have happened to the young woman. Things get stranger and stranger before Holmes is finally allowed to see a pale, wan, but otherwise healthy-looking Miss Baxter. Relieved, Holmes and her crew leave for London and communicate the good news to their employer.
When that news is met with another demand for services, Charlotte knows there is much, much more to the request than it seems. This time, one of Moriarty’s minions hasn’t been heard from in several months and Moriarty wants Holmes to find out what has happened to him. It doesn’t take Holmes very long to figure out what Moriarty is up to, but thwarting him will depend on the cooperation of a number of other people. Can they pull it off? Can they make Moriarty think he’s won – without actually letting him do so? Can they keep both Holmes and Moriarty’s daughter safe?
We haven’t left Olivia, Charlotte’s sister, and Mr. Marbleton out of the story, they just play smaller roles. While the roles may be smaller, they are pivotal to the characters and probably to future books. I had hoped the Moriarty thing would be solved within the first half-dozen or so books, but he’s still there. I’d at least like to see him get a major set-down so the characters who are currently living in fear can breathe a little easier for a while – especially poor Mr. Marbleton.
My advice is to quit reading this review and begin reading the book. Once you do, you won’t be able to put it down, so have everything you’ll need within an arm’s reach. Happy Reading!
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.