The Empress of India

Written by Michael Kurland
Review by Steve Lewis

On and off over a period of nearly thirty years, Kurland has been chronicling the adventures of Sherlock Holmes’s most notorious nemesis, James Moriarty. In the process his primary intents seems to have been to clean some of the tarnish off the good (or not so good) professor’s reputation. Not that Holmes was entirely mistaken about him, but could it just possibly be that Moriarty was not responsible for all of the crimes Holmes suspected him of committing?

Take this latest case, for example. When a fortune in gold is known to be on its way to the Bank of England from India, and Moriarty is known to be on the way to Calcutta, what other reason could he have other than the most obvious one? Wrong. Admittedly he has nefarious intent, but the gold is not why he is there.

While Holmes himself has mysteriously disappeared, swept away in a London sewer, Thuggees seem to have re-emerged as an evil force in India, and Dr. Pin Dok Low and his gang of unsavory associates really do have gold on their minds.

While Kurland is not terribly convincing when writing in the mode of Doyle, when he is left to tell his own rollicking story, what a glorious romp of a tale it is! His quick breezy style, interspersed with small jabs of wry humor, makes this particular caper move along in fine smile-provoking fashion. That there is also a locked room mystery to be solved is only the frosting on the cake.