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Unquiet Spirits
Whisky, Ghosts, Adventure
A Sherlock Holmes Adventure – Book II
Bonnie MacBird

Collins Crime Club (Harper Collins UK)
27 July 2017 / ISBN 9780008129712

Reviewed by  Rachel A Hyde

December 1889 and Holmes and Watson have recently returned from solving the Hound of the Baskervilles case. Somebody is trying to kill Holmes, and he comes face to face with a figure from his early past, a time which Watson knows nothing about. The same day Mrs. Hudson shows in beautiful Isla McLaren, a lady with a case involving a missing servant which Holmes curtly dismisses in favor of an assignment from his brother. Soon they are on their way to the South of France, but they have not seen the last of Mrs. McLaren.

Whisky, ghost and murder…oh my! The game is truly afoot in this long, involved and very enjoyable mystery. I read a fair number of stories featuring Conan Doyle’s inimitable sleuths but this is a particularly fine one, the sequel to Art in the Blood. Although this is not a sequel in the true sense of the term, I suggest reading it first in order to fully get into Ms. MacBird’s creation and be introduced to fellow sleuth Vidocq. From damp London to sunny Nice and then to the snowy Highlands and a haunted castle, the case keeps developing and changing, keeping the reader on their toes with surprises and red herrings. It is a lot of fun, ticking all the boxes of the features that add up to a good Holmes story. We get this author’s version of what formed his character, plenty of the sorts of weirdness that sets Conan Doyle’s own tales apart, a convincing Watson as narrator and authentic recreations of several late Victorian locations. I guessed most of it, but as with any good trip, the journey is as much importance as the destination, and nothing about the denouement was disappointing. My only minor complaint is that, like most long novels, it does tread water a bit in the middle and some slight editing would make it even better. But as this is one of the standout novels I have read this year so far, this did not spoil my enjoyment. I eagerly anticipate the arrival of The Devil’s Due next year and recommend this book wholeheartedly to anybody who loves a good yarn.

Reviewed 2017