I just loved this book! Maybe my view is slightly tinged with the deep regret that it is, in fact, the posthumous work of the author; one whom I've followed over the years as he created Boysie Oakes, new 007 stories and, of course, the biography in three parts of Sherlock Holmes's arch-nemesis, Professor James Moriarty.
Having returned from a successful crime binge in America, Moriarty was expecting to take over where he left off in London but finds a young pretender, Jack Idell, running what was Moriarty's crime empire.
Gardner was always good at painting a rewarding picture of his settings. In this book, Victorian England is superbly portrayed, the language as used by the criminal lowlifes skillfully employed (for those unsure of the words, there is a glossary). As ever, the story has interesting turns, an insider too close to home maybe for one but how he plots to regain his empire is a rollicking read for sure.
But whatever the story, it is the author who should be highly praised, if only for giving Moriarty a life we didn't know and, possibly, giving us pause to be just a little sympathetic! Regrettably, we've reached the end and this is certainly a fitting tribute to John Gardner.