Death on a Pale Horse: Sherlock Holmes on her Majesty's Secret Service
by Donald Thomas
Pegasus, 2013. 345 pgs. Mystery
Sherlock Holmes is back, as we knew he would be, in the service of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, trying to bring to ground a truly wicked man. Rawdon "Hunter" Moran is a crack shot, a gambler, a ladies' man who uses up the ladies and then discards them to terrible fates. When one of his conquests kills herself he is brought before a kangaroo court of his peers and as he leaves, is branded with a 666 mark on his arm by the husband of the dead woman. He swears revenge, and it is not long in coming. With various sabotages he helps a Zulu force overwhelm an entire British armored column, causes the death of a young French nobleman and subsequently of those who were guarding him. When his killings reach British shores, Sherlock Holmes is on the case. Dr. Watson's narrative is deliberate but suspenseful--even scary at times. Sherlock Holmes' relentless pursuit of Hunter Moran leads them to a frightening showdown in foggy seas, and a hasty-feeling but ultimately satisfying ending. Not Conan Doyle's Sherlock, by any means, but a creditable substitute if you've already read the masterworks.