Reluctantly, Sherlock Holmes agrees to assist Inspector Lestrade who is being hounded by an obnoxious nobleman whose jewel-encrusted dagger has gone missing. However, what Holmes initially believes to be a simple theft turns out instead to be his first encounter with a master criminal, who is as ruthless as he is brilliant, and whom Watson dubs “The Merchant of Menace.”
Soon Holmes finds himself matching wits with a man who will steal anything – if the price is right. Moreover, this thief will go to any lengths, including blackmail and murder, to achieve his desired goal.
As Holmes comes to understand his adversary, he also begins to realize he can only react to the Merchant because he has no idea where this criminal mastermind will strike next. All Holmes knows for certain is the Merchant seems to specialize in priceless, one-of-a-kind articles. Will that be enough information for the Great Detective to outwit his foe?
From the British Museum to the Louvre to Blenheim Palace, Holmes finds himself in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse. Set against the backdrop of early Edwardian England, the Great Detective and his Boswell encounter an array of luminaries from the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough to a young Winston Churchill.
For fans of Conan Doyle’s immortal detective, the game is always afoot. However, this time around Holmes must try to bring to justice a villain who might well be the next Napoleon of Crime.
By far, I feel like this is Richard T. Ryan’s best work yet, in this fourth book he’s embodied entirely what the Sherlock Holmes series is about. Practice makes perfect and Richard has transcended into the elite group of Holmes writers and creators.
The conversations between Holmes and Watson flow as if written by Conan Doyle himself. I’m beginning to think Richard Ryan is the reincarnation of the late and still great Conan Doyle.
The story finds Holmes matching wits with a thief extraordinaire, upon whom he bestows “The Merchant,” is a thief for hire who will steal anything if the price is right, but more important is the fact that he is a worthy adversary for Holmes.
Holmes is tasked with recovering a rare manuscript by William Blake and other such antiques. Catching a criminal mastermind, who operates on a purely opportunistic basis, leaves Holmes to figure out an ingenious scheme, and bait his trap with an irresistible lure.
I particularly like the last third, but to say more might be to spoil it. At one point, I honestly had no clue on how Holmes was going to solve this, and that’s how you know this is an amazing read!
The spirit of Conan Doyle lives on in this fast moving and captivating tale.
About The Author
A lifelong Sherlockian, Richard Ryan is the author of “The Official Sherlock Holmes Trivia Book” as well as a book on Agatha Christie trivia, and his series, the Sherlock Holmes Adventures, now consisting of four books, all available from MX Publishing, London.
Richard Ryan obtained his master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame, where he majored in medieval literature; he is a die-hard fan of the Fighting Irish — it doesn’t matter what sport. He has been happily married for 40 years and is the proud father of two children.
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