New in Mysteries:

Moriarty Returns a Letter

Robertson has amassed good mileage—and some really good novels—out of the world’s endless fascination with Sherlock Holmes, going well beyond the old chestnut of claiming to have come across a mislaid Watson manuscript. Robertson’s protagonists are a couple of drily funny British lawyers who work out of offices at 221B Baker Street. They get sacks of mail from people who believe Holmes is real. Occasionally, a letter will pique their interest and send them off on the trail of a miscreant. The novels began as wonderful mixes of suspense, detection, and muddle-through comedy, though the tone darkened as the series went on. This latest has gone grim. It begins with the whipping of a half-naked man with a knotted rope, then moves to a bombing death, and the entry of the flippant heroes halfway through doesn’t lighten the tone. There’s a subtext here: the evil is loosed because gullible people believed, like the letter writers, that Holmes existed. The novel can be read as a warning against believing in fairy tales, or simply as an artfully done mystery. –Don Crinkla