Sherlock Holmes’ untimely death as he wrestled his arch-nemesis, Moriarty, at Reichenbach Falls stunned the civilized world. Although faithfully recorded as “The Final Problem” by his grief-stricken friend and chronicler, Dr. James Watson, not everyone could accept this verdict of the ensuing investigation. Frederick Chase of the famous Pinkerton Detective Agency in New York regards the recorded events as suspicious. Narrating his tale on his trusty Remington typewriter, he relates his encounter with Scotland Yard inspector Athelney Jones (who figured in a previous Holmes case), who has found what appears to be the body of Moriarty himself, decidedly dead. Instead of relief, both men realize this creates a chance for another villain to fill the gap left by Moriarty – and Jones has a lead on who that person is. As both men risk their lives searching for this suspect, Clarence Devereux, whom they believe disposed of Moriarty, several surprises await them as villains crop up and are disposed of.
This novel is a literary roller coaster gone wild. Clues, red herrings and the offspring of red herrings abound, and the conclusion will leave readers gasping with admiration or protesting “it cannot be true!”. The writing is excellent, yet the pace of the story has moved from the sinister calm of Watson’s Victorian era to the edge of the reader’s seat in the current day.