keeperThe Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson
Release Date: June 23, 2009
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

In Los Angeles, a geological surveyor maps out a proposed subway route–and then goes missing. His eight-year-old daughter, in her desperation, turns to the one person she thinks might help–she writes a letter to Sherlock Holmes.

That letter creates an uproar at 221b Baker Street, which now houses the law offices of attorney and man about town Reggie Heath and his hapless brother, Nigel. Instead of filing the letter like he’s supposed to, Nigel decides to investigate. Soon he’s flying off to Los Angeles, inconsiderately leaving a very dead body on the floor in his office. Big brother Reggie follows Nigel to California, as does Reggie’s sometime lover, Laura—a quick-witted stage actress who’s captured the hearts of both brothers.

When Nigel is arrested, Reggie must use all his wits to solve a case that Sherlock Holmes would have savored and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fans will adore. – Goodreads

I love Sherlock Holmes. I love the movies with Robert Downey Jr, I love the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I love the novels by Laurie R. King, I love the history and the mystery. I do not love the BBC show, but you can’t win them all, right? So this book seemed like it was the next logical step in my quest for MORE SHERLOCK, even though he doesn’t actually exist in this novel. He’s a fictional character in this universe, as he is in ours, but his storied place of residence has always existed in all universes. Part of the lease signed by the elder Heath brother, Reggie, states that the tenant at 221b Baker Street must respond to all letters sent to one Sherlock Holmes. There is a form letter meant to keep most at bay, particularly the older women asking for help finding their lost cats, but Nigel Heath is a suspended lawyer with a conscience and a sense of duty. As the summary states, the book begins with Nigel missing his hearing for reinstatement and jetting off to LA, leaving an unpleasant surprise in his office. Reggie’s girlfriend, Laura, who discovers the body with Reggie, is a treat and a half. She’s smart, sarcastic, has a biting wit and a genuine concern for the Heath brothers.

So Reggie is in LA, bumbling around a few days or so behind his brother, not really even sure what he’s looking for or where to find it. He gets caught up in a murder investigation, of which his brother is the prime suspect. Nigel and Reggie have always competed, and things have worked out better for Reggie than Nigel in pretty much all areas, including romance. Nigel has some erratic behaviors, especially when viewed by an outsider who doesn’t know him, and some things have occurred in the recent past that don’t look so good for the younger Heath brother. I found myself wondering if maybe Nigel had Asperger’s, but really, I think he and Reggie are just opposites. The LA police are not really interested in Nigel’s eccentricities or really any mention of Sherlock Holmes, so Reggie is mostly on his own in trying to prove Nigel’s innocence. Eventually, Laura shows up to help too.

So that’s the basis. I think a lot of this novel is less about the mystery and more about learning more about the Heath brothers, both as individuals and the intricacies of their relationship. The mystery is always in the background, of course, but the more interesting moments are when you learn about the brothers’ past, their competitions, their indiscretions, their fundamental differences. We learn a bit about Laura too, but pretty much only how her presence relates to and affects the Heath brothers and their relationship.

I liked this one, as I like pretty much all mysteries, but probably not enough to read the next in the series. A little too dry and slow-moving at times for my tastes, but it could definitely work for you, especially if you’re into this writing style. And really, once it picks up (almost two-thirds of the way through), it’s really enjoyable and interesting.

And here’s my favorite quote in the book, spoken by Laura:

  • “Only men are under thirty forever and only in their own minds.”