The year is 1912 and Dr. Watson is living alone in rooms in Piccadilly, writing historical novels, while Sherlock Holmes has retired to the South Downs where he keeps bees and conducts scientific experiments. For both men, the time of mysteries and adventures seems very firmly a thing of the past.
On the 9th of April though, Dr. Watson admits an unexpected visitor who turns out to be government official with a message from Holmes.
The retired investigator has been convinced to travel to America on a secret government mission, and asks Watson to join him for the journey. They will be travelling on the maiden voyage of The Titanic, accompanied by Miss Christine Norton, a young spy who will be transporting top secret documents to America. Miss Norton is also the daughter of Irene Adler, the only woman who ever managed to better Sherlock Holmes.
On board the Titanic, Holmes is incognito, pretending to be Giles Winter, a Royal Navy Commodore but Watson, travelling under his own name attracts a lot of attention as the author of the books about the famous detective.
It isn’t long before trouble starts for the trio travelling to New York. Miss Norton’s room gets broken into and the secret plans stolen. There is no shortage of suspects on board, one of whom is Colonel James Moriarty, brother of Holmes infamous nemesis the Professor.
With national security at stake Holmes and his associates know they only have a few days to unravel the mystery of who stole the plans since once the Titanic arrives in America both the thief and the plans will just disappear. Little do they know that they have even less time than they feared.
While the Titanic sails towards her date with destiny, a frantic search for the plans is conducted while other and apparently unrelated mysteries also ask for investigations.
This was, once again, an enjoyable addition to the original Sherlock Holmes series of books and stories. The Further Adventures that I have read so far have all been of a high quality; close enough to the originals to make both the stories and the characters easily recognisable yet original enough to make them separate entities rather than poor carbon copies of Conan Doyle’s creations.
William Seil has, in this book, offered the reader another fascinating mystery. He makes good use of the original back stories and characters by introducing relatives of former opponents of Holmes as both friend and foe, while also adding a number of fresh characters that could easily have been coming from those originals.
Setting the story on board of The Titanic is of course very timely now that we’re only days away from the sinking of that great ship and I like the way the author dealt with their trip as well as the aftermath of the sinking.
I also like the way Seil dealt with the sinking tragedy. It would have been so easy to centre the story around that event, but the author didn’t fall into that particular trap. Instead he has given the reader an honest mystery in which the sinking plays only a relatively small part.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book, find myself very grateful to have discovered these Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and hope that the series will continue for a long time yet.