The Brothers of Baker Street: A Mystery by Michael Robinson (Minotaur Books; $24.95; 274 pages)
“Everyone is entitled to the best defense available. That doesn’t mean everyone is entitled to me.”
Snappy dialogue and well-described characters make this a charming riff on the legendary Sherlock Holmes detective mysteries. Of course, the opening of the story is set in a privileged, upper class English home where a servant is tending to the needs and desires of an unidentified central figure. The reader is not provided with any clues regarding the gender or age of the homeowner, nor the reason for their interest in the Daily News, a tabloid of sorts.
There is a direct tie to the 19th century literary character Sherlock Holmes that the reader discovers when the main character of this mystery novel, Reggie Heath, drives his Jaguar into the neighborhood where he works. The office is located at 221 B Baker Street, London. Reggie is a barrister, someone in the legal profession who represents lawyers in court. This seems convoluted and layered, and it is distinctly British. The office lease for this historic address comes with special terms and conditions. Writers of letters to Sherlock Holmes, and there are many, must receive a timely written reply. Reggie’s brother Nigel, who lives in the United States, is responsible for the replies; however, Nigel must return to London in order to play a part in the action in this story.
In the first book of this series, The Baker Street Letters, a letter for Sherlock Holmes drew Reggie to California. Moreover, the chaos that ensued depleted his bank account and nearly ruined his reputation. As is frequently the case with British mysteries, the mundane details are glossed over in favor of creating an illusion of surreptitious and clandestine meetings, great chases and general gallivanting about the countryside. Happily, there are enough wonderful examples of these features to satisfy the reader’s need for a Holmes-like experience. As always, a London taxi, actually a legendary Black Cab, features prominently in the action.
Author Robertson sets up duels of wits between Reggie and several other characters. One of these characters is a modern day version of Holmes’ nemesis Professor Moriarty. This reviewer refuses to divulge any more about the plot as it is engaging and deserves not to be spoiled.
This review was written by Ruta Arellano. A review copy was provided by the publisher. The Brothers of Baker Street will be released on March 1, 2011.
“An extremely clever evil scheme will delight readers.” Publishers Weekly