Saturday, June 13, 2009

Baker Street Letters-Michael Robertson

Baker Street Letters
Michael Robertson
Minotaur, Jun 23 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780312538125

In 1997 Solicitor Reggie Heath signs a lease to rent office space on Baker Street. As part of the rental agreement, the attorney is responsible for responding to requests from people writing to Sherlock Holmes at 221B Baker Street. Reggie figures the letters are a humorous irritant so assigns the answers to his clerk, his younger brother Nigel suspended from legal practice due to misconduct.

Nigel takes the pleas for help seriously and tries to respond with more than a platitude. He is especially fixated on a “pen pal” Mara Ramirez who sent a note to Mr. Holmes two decades ago when she was eight and her mom was missing. Nigel and senior clerk Robert Ocher often argue especially how to respond as the latter wants as little time spent on the Holmes correspondence as possible. Robert is soon killed by a knife in Nigel’s office while Nigel has vanished. Reggie knows his sibling is missing some brain pixels, but believes he is not a killer yet still fears these two events are tied to Mara. He travels to Los Angeles not sure what to expect; what he did not was having LAPD arrest him on charges of homicide.

This is an enjoyable refreshing spin to the Holmes universe though when it comes to sleuthing neither brother is on a par with Watson let alone the great literary detective as a distracted Nigel is always in trouble and Reggie is a somewhat bumbling amateur sleuth. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Nigel reads the first letter from Mara and never slows down until the final Los Angeles confrontation. Readers will enjoy this fine modern day spin to the Baker Street cosmos.

Harriet Klausner