and Watson receive a visit from an agitated man who turns
out to be Prince Alexander, the heir to the Dutch throne.
He recounts a tale of plots and poison, and begs for their
help. Soon they are trying to prevent an assassination, dealing
with a master criminal, and hobnobbing with the highest in
Historical fact meets fiction in this tale of crowns and criminals.
It is 1884, early in Holmes' career, and instead of Moriarty
we have John Klee, a man of a thousand faces and assassin
for hire. The chase to aid Alexander and the doomed Duke of
Albany runs across to France and the well-described marshes
of the Camargue to culminate in the Battle of the Flowers.
Some of it actually took place: Fenian explosions, Queen Victoria's
haemophiliac offspring, the fated male line of Holland, etc.,
and the book has addendum and notes at the back to explain
the factual parts. All this is woven together with an interesting
"what if" connection, but to say more would spoil
the story. I've read more bizarre Holmes tales, but this one
manages to show instead the strangeness of actual historical
figures and events. Mr Kingston has a good stab at Watson's
narrator voice and gets it mostly right, with a recognizable
Holmes who is inscrutable, volatile and a force of nature.
Overall, an interesting addition to the canon of pastiches.