It’s a great time to be a Sherlock Holmes fan… I don’t think there was ever a loss of interest in the great detective, but with shows like Elementary and Sherlock bringing in new fans, it definitely feels the floodgates have opened when it comes to new mysteries, especially in book form. Jonathan Liu shared a review just the other day of a new series of books that focus on Sherlock’s younger years and I wrote back in August about another young Sherlock book series, but if you’re looking for a new series featuring the familiar Holmes and Watson duo, let me point you to Titan Books.
The series is only four books in, and it’s off to a great start. I’ve just completed the latest release, George Mann’s The Will of the Dead, and it offered up a bonus to fan’s of Mann’s Newbury and Hobbes series — Chief Inspector Bainbridge features prominently in this story as he helps not only Holmes and Watson in a special case, but he’s got a very unusual one of his own that he’s working in parallel. More on that shortly.
The main plot of the book focuses on the death of a wealthy man and the loss of his will. The man’s niece and nephews have all been named as equal shareholders in the distribution of the man’s wealth, but with the will gone, the law of the land puts the estate in the hands of the oldest nephew… and the other three surviving family members aren’t so confident the eldest will honor the wishes of their uncle. To further complicate matters, a long-lost relative has emerged and is now claiming the estate belongs to him. Was the man’s death a natural one or was it murder? Was one of the family members involved… or is it possibly this unknown relative? It’s a clear-cut mystery… no supernatural elements here. It’s a back-to-basics Sherlock Holmes mystery that leans heavily on all of Holmes’ tricks and nails it.
And Bainbridge? Rather than Lestrade, Holmes and Watson find themselves crossing paths with Bainbridge because one of the family members has asked Holmes for help in locating the will. Bainbridge is certainly qualified as an investigator, and he’s able to admit when he’s wrong… as when Holmes chooses to dig a bit deeper into the case and finds some new and unusual evidence. I really like the character of Bainbridge, and I was curious to see Mann’s take on the relationship between Holmes and Bainbridge. Would Holmes have a healthy disrespect of Bainbridge as he does with Lestrade?
“Who’d have thought it, eh?” I said laughing.
“Thought what, Watson?
“That we’d ever happen upon a policeman whom you actually liked, Holmes,” I said, with a wide grin.
“Tolerate is the word, Watson,” replied Holmes, smiling. “Tolerate.”
Bainbridge has his own mystery going as the primary story progresses, and it involves an unusual crew of thieves who are breaking into the homes of the wealthy and robbing them of their valuables. These thefts are being done in full view of witnesses, many of them the actual homeowners. The thefts are brazen and quite unusual… I don’t want to ruin any surprises, so I’ll just leave it at that.
This new series from Titan Books is not linear… you don’t have to have read the previous three (The Breath of God, The Army of Dr. Moreau, The Stuff of Nightmares) to enjoy this one. And I’m happy to see that there are two new ones scheduled — The Spirit Box in June 2014 and Gods of War in August 2014.
Note: I’d like to thank Tom at Titan Books for the advanced review copy of The Will of the Dead.