Sherlock Holmes & the Silver Cord by M.K. Wiseman
Review by Lis Carey: As with other Sherlock Holmes tales by M. K. Wiseman, Holmes is his own chronicler. Not, this time, due to Watson’s absence, but because this tale is about what’s going on inside Holmes’s head, as he recovers from the mental and emotional impact of the death of Moriarty, his own three-year absence, and his surprise return to London, 221B Baker Street, and Watson’s life.
In the Reichenbach Falls adventure, Holmes always intended to kill Moriarty in their final confrontation, but he had expected to die himself. He saw no way of returning alive.
Holmes berated himself with guilt and self-contempt, for leaving Watson to believe him dead for three years, for perhaps being not much better than Moriarty for his willingness to kill, for blithely accepting Watson’s willingness to return to 221B Baker Street and their partnership together after that three-year absence, and for devoting himself to the relatively minor undertaking of mopping of the mostly petty criminals that were what was left of Moriarty’s crime empire.
Except, as we see, his feelings about Watson’s acceptance of his return without reprimand or rejection are anything but blithe. Holmes feels guilt about that, and shame, and questions his very worth as a human being. In the midst of this, two cases come his way. One involves a widow, Mrs. Jones, who has received in the mail diary pages which are clearly in her hand, that she does not recall writing, which recount an affair with a friend of her husband’s, while her husband was still alive. The man’s name is Percy Simmons.
The other case is brought to him by the head of the Theosophical Order of Odic Forces–one Mr. Percy Simmons. The same Percy Simmons, of course. The theosophists — there were and are a variety of theosophical groups — believe among other things that magic is real, and can be used for good or ill. Mr. Simmons informs Holmes that members of his group are being magically attacked by an enemy. Two have died already, and a third has sunk into a deep sleep, from which he has not awakened for nine days. He wants Holmes to find that enemy.
Over the course of the next days, Holmes and Watson search for evidence of the enemy, evidence that Simmons is a charlatan, and evidence that the two cases may be somehow connected.
Although Watson has some concern about what seems to be odd behavior from Holmes, he does not know what’s going on inside his head–either his guilt and self-contempt, or the way Simmons’s talk about theosophy and its ability to reveal both justice and evil. Holmes is strongly tempted by the idea that it may be the path out of his self-loathing and guilt.
But for it to do that for him, he has to know that it’s not all a charlatan’s fraud.
It’s an interesting mystery, and it’s also an interesting look inside Holmes’s head.
I received a free electronic galley of this book from Rachel’s Random Resources.
(M.K. Wiseman, 2023)