In the late Victorian days, a large amount of gold is arriving unannounced on the cargo ship The Empress of India. Yet the impossible happens--the shipment of gold disappears en route. Sherlock Holmes, brought in by Her Majesty's Government, knows that only one man is both diabolical and clever enough to pull off such an outlandish, daring, and, ...Read MoreIn the late Victorian days, a large amount of gold is arriving unannounced on the cargo ship The Empress of India. Yet the impossible happens--the shipment of gold disappears en route. Sherlock Holmes, brought in by Her Majesty's Government, knows that only one man is both diabolical and clever enough to pull off such an outlandish, daring, and, yes, theoretically impossible crime: Professor James Moriarty. Moriarty, however, had nothing to do with the crime and yet finds himself under siege from all sides. To regain his peace, Professor Moriarty undertakes to locate the missing gold. But the gold is only the exposed tip of the iceberg and he soon finds himself matching wits with a mind as nimble--perhaps even more so--than his own.Read Less
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This is the fourth novel in the Professor Moriarty series by Michael Kurland and, to my mind, it is the best yet. I hesitate to suggest that Mr. Kurland?s writing style is maturing, as he has been writing excellent prose for many years. On the other hand, this novel displays a level of comfort in handling his characters and themes that is at least a step above his previous entries in this series. Several incidents and events are especially well drawn and his supporting characters are vivid and charming. Furthermore, his treatment of Sherlock Holmes is much more sympathetic and much less likely to outrage Sherlockians.
This tale begins with Holmes being asked by the Managing Director of the Bank of England to assist the official efforts of Her Majesty?s Government in ensuring proper reception of a large shipment of boullion from India for storage in the Bank?s vaults. Naturally, what seems to be a simple and straight-forward task quickly becomes quite complicated. When Holmes disappears down a sewer, Mycroft, Dr. Watson and Inspectors Lestrade and Gregson appear on Professor Moriarty?s doorstep demanding his immediate return.
The action then develops on several fronts, with Moriarty and Moran dashing across Europe, followed by the minions of a mysterious oriental figure from London?s underworld and sinister events in India seem to indicate another rising of Thuggee. Meanwhile, Holmes remains missing, Watson frets, Moriarty and Moran plan their own caper and Mycroft schemes as new paper money is shipped to India on ?The Empress of India.?
A love interest develops, the Viceroy plans his own protection for the gold, the Indian intelligence service devises its plans for protecting the gold, and, presumably, Sherlock Holmes makes his plans to protect the gold. It becomes difficult to discern who is plotting what against whom, and who is defending against what, but it is a sure thing that the gold will turn up (or not) as missing. The ragtag crews of plotters, on both sides, all have agendas of their own and one gets the impression of one of those movie cartoon corridors where various parties chasing one another appear and disappear into and out of a series of rooms on each side of thecorridor in random fashion.
The resolution is multi-layered, as befits the plot, and the reader isn?t quite sure that he has not been ?had? by some one or another of the plotters. It is amusing and aggravating and all good fun and done in a dry, tongue-in-cheek style that keeps the reader on the author?s side all the way through the exotic plot and counterplot action. I sincerely hope the author can keep up this level of artistry in the next volume in the series. Of course, Kurland plants his usual salute to other fictional characters (like his statue of Lord Hornblower in another book in the series). See if you can spot this one.
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