The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes


This continuation of the Sherlock Holmes story will not please many ¬†Baker Street Irregulars, nor will it satisfy historical novel fans looking for period authenticity. The major mystery involves less than subtle clues left on purpose by a villain luring the famous detective for the purposes of melodramatic revenge. Millet’s Holmes lacks not only the superficial trademarks of Holmes like the violin, the cocaine, and the deerstalker hat, but also the more essential character elements, such as dark moods, coldness and impatient superiority. Little is explained, and the solution of the mystery involves gunplay with gangsters more than cogitation about chemistry.

The portrayal of the Britain and the United States at the beginning of the last century offers some opportunity for creating interest, but for the most part this is confined to meticulous description of landmarks. The section involving Chicago uses the name of Bathhouse John Coughlin, an admittedly corrupt alderman, but never alleged to be anything like the psychopath rapist Millet described. The elephantine alderman seems to have been an unlikely candidate for the athletic and murderous escapades in which Millet has him tangling with Holmes.

Perhaps this objection is mean-spirited because the disarming author’s note says the book “makes no great claims to historical accuracy.” Endnotes do link events and places in the text in a way that should be done by more historical novelists. However, Millet offers no compelling reason to choose his new creation over a re-reading of Arthur Conan Doyle.


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