When brothers Reggie and Nigel Heath choose 221B Baker Street as the location for their law office, they don’t expect that their new office space would come with one huge stipulation, answering the letters sent to Sherlock Holmes, the most famous resident of that address.
Reggie is distressed because the love of his life, actress Laura Rankin (whom Nigel also adores), is gallivanting around with media mogul Lord Buxton. And while Reggie is working on a new case involving one of London’s Black Cab drivers who is accused of murdering two American tourists, the letters to Sherlock Holmes are piling up. There s even one from someone who claims to be the descendent of Professor James Moriarty.
So it looks like I lied in my review of the first of this series when I said I didn’t enjoy it enough to read the next one. By the end of the book, I knew I wanted to continue on and see what happened next (yes, sometimes I write my reviews before I am completely finished with the novel). The beginning of this novel shows that Reggie did indeed lose his personal fortune due to the events of the last novel, and I’m glad that happened. Not because I want bad things to happen to Reggie, but because I didn’t want everything to be so nicely tied up. Reggie has not only lost his personal fortune, but he’s lost all of his clients and probably Laura too, so his life is in a bit of a shambles when this one begins. He’d like to forget about all the nonsense with the letters to Sherlock Holmes and focus on his one and only case, but then a letter comes signed “Moriarty.” Nigel, still in LA, is pretty insistent that Reggie take this one seriously.
While Reggie is working this case, we also get a parallel story, little glimpses into the person who is presumably writing the Moriarty letters. She is female and she is not taking her schizophrenia medications, relying on a Russian maid due to her parents being dead. She asks her maid, Ilsa, to refer to her as “Professor.” The snippets of the girl’s life are somewhat disturbed and altogether mysterious. Things happen much more quickly in this novel, probably because the author doesn’t need to set up characterization and all that, and things go bad for Reggie equally quickly. We learn a bit about his past, which gives us a little more insight into his character, and we finally get to meet Nigel outside of his small appearances in the first novel. The mystery is interesting, and I had my suspicions, but I won’t tell you if they were correct.
In all, I think this one has better pacing and flow than the first novel, and the mystery is just more twisty and weird, which made it more interesting. I really love Laura and her dryness, and I am developing an attachment to and an affection for the Heath brothers, so different yet so alike, and how differently their minds work. I like how there are parallels to the original Sherlock Holmes, but the differences are stark. The police chief of Reggie’s day, for example, is not nearly as bumbling as Lestrade, and Laura acts as a perfect Watson. I actually think Nigel is more like Holmes than Reggie, but together they balance the whole thing out.