The game’s afoot. An author has seized hold of the style and dash of the Sherlock Holmes stories and created, by gaslight in a leather chair and wearing an Inverness cape made of Irish thornproof fabric, a new story. It concerns, to my consternation, Holmes’s arch enemy, the evil Professor Moriarty. I could not conceive of such a monster of international crime but my eyes were opened to the horrific nature of this man by the good offices of Scotland Yard.

That is my attempt to mimic the style of this book, which was given to me as a present and is not one I would have chosen in the normal course of my meandering approach to reading. But it is very good.

I won’t spoil the plot but there is a twist that you can sort of see coming but is nonetheless really well done, especially in the change of voice.

I suspect there are a lot of references to Conan Doyle’s stories that real enthusiasts will pick up but which were lost on me. But you don’t need to be all that much of a Holmes fan to enjoy this – it stands on its own merits.

Definitely a three-pipe book, as Holmes might have said.

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