This book is the first of a series of novels which feature Sherlock Holmes, who was lost on a mission for the King in 1914 in Switzerland. He has apparently been recovered, resuscitated and is recuperating as Cedric Coombes in 21st Century Wales. James Wilson, a retired newspaper correspondent who was wounded in Afghanistan, meets an old friend who tells him that Coombes is looking for a roommate, as is Wilson, and so begins a tale.
The `facts' about Coombes come to Wilson slowly. He is skeptical and fascinated. Holmes seems very much Holmes, attempting to sop up ninety years and more of details and marvels. Meanwhile, Holmes is asked to help the local police with a puzzling little mystery. It seems that a chief Inspector Lestrade, of Scotland Yard was assigned by the Bureau to aid in Holmes' recovery. His grandfather (yes, rat-face) was involved with Holmes many years before and seems to have passed along some tips for making use of him. There seems to be a large Government presence involved in the matter, which argues against the `simple' explanation nominally provided.
The mechanics of Holmes' disappearance and revival are sketchy and bear the marks of a government cover-up, besides being almost impossible to believe as presented. The key word here is `almost.' The story is crisp and well-written and the writer has a real gift for catching characters. His scenes are lively, his comments are few, but well-chosen and the situations seem to develop naturally. Wilson remarks at one point that Holmes seems to exhibit many of the symptoms of `Bi-Polar disorder.' This is not a Physician speaking, but it does seem to catch the essence of the Holmes of The Canon. This Holmes is a bit more human than Dr. Watson's version, but is also quite believable.
The mystery proceeds apace and Holmes and Wilson, together, manage to muddle through. The clean, sharp answers of The Canonical tales are not in evidence, but this Holmes and Watson (oops, Wilson!) are much more believable and likeable. They relate to one another and they actually compliment each other. It makes for a very interesting book. This edition is new and, possibly, revised from the original 2007 version. It is well-edited and imaginative.
Reviewed by: Philip K. Jones, March, 2011