From the Edgar®-nominated author of Hammett Unwritten and Woman with a Blue Pencil comes a startling novel told in the voice of Sherlock Holmes. Set in 1920s’ London, Cambridge, and Paris, Holmes’s final adventure leads him through labyrinths of crime and espionage in a mortally dangerous inquiry into the unseen nature of existence itself.
Sherlock Holmes, now in his seventies, retired from investigations and peaceably disguised as a professor at Cambridge, is shaken when a modestly successful author in his late-sixties named Arthur Conan Doyle calls upon him at the university. This Conan Doyle, notable for historical adventure stories, science fiction, and a three-volume history of the Boer War (but no detective tales), somehow knows of the false professor’s true identity and pleads for investigative assistance. Someone is trying to kill Conan Doyle. Who? Why? Good questions, but what intrigues Holmes most is how the “middling scribbler” ascertained Holmes’s identity in the first place, despite the detective’s perfect disguise. Holmes takes the case.
There is danger every step of the way. Great powers want the investigation quashed. But with the assistance of Dr. Watson’s widow, Holmes persists, exploring séances, the esoterica of Edgar Allan Poe, the revolutionary new science of quantum mechanics, and his own long-denied sense of loss and solitude.
Ultimately, even Sherlock Holmes is unprepared for what the evidence suggests.
Booklist Starred Review
Believe it! Sherlock Holmes actually said, “while the individual man is an insoluble puzzle, in the aggregate he becomes a mathematical certainty.” Thus does he foreshadow quantum mechanics in this pastiche that has the old bloodhound—he’s 73 now—moving through a literary detective novel. It’s to author McAlpine’s credit that he makes what might have been an arch exercise into a joy to read. The plot finds Jorge Luis Borges coming across a manuscript handwritten by long-deceased Holmes. Suddenly Borges is evading a killer, and seeking out a PI for help. Then we dive into the manuscript itself, and Holmes tells us he’s become a college professor with a phony German accent. He’s consulted by a midlist author named Conan Doyle about a problematic seance, and what follows is an engrossing display of Holmesian scholarship, bent on convincing us that Holmes was not the Victorian gentleman the late Watson portrayed. It’s a fascinating read, smart and entertaining for all that it’s based on those quantum mechanics. That’s right, it’s Holmes confronting alternate universes, and it’s wonderful.— Don Crinklaw
“A joy to read from start to finish…a thrilling, believable rendering of our beloved detective in his twilight years. I can’t recommend this novel enough.” — Mitch Cullin, author of A Slight Trick of the Mind, the basis for the film, “Mr. Holmes”.
“In this brilliant imagining by Gordon McAlpine… Prepare to have your mind blown!” — Leslie S. Klinger, editor of the Edgar Award-winning New Annotated Sherlock Holmes