"The Brothers of Baker Street"
by Michael Robertson
Minotaur/Thomas Dunne, 274 pp., $24.99
Reviewed by David Marshall James
London barrister Reggie Heath-- his reputation and bank account battered by his adventures in Los Angeles in "The Baker Street Letters"-- has returned to chambers in London.
No clerk. No intern. No cases.
Just the one secretary, plus those letters that continue to arrive addressed to Sherlock Holmes, seeing as how Reggie's chambers are situated at Holmes's literary residence: 221b Baker Street.
Bother that, but Reggie's lease requires that he respond to all such missives with a form letter. Reggie's younger brother, Nigel, proved much better at handling such loopy loopholes, but he's still in California with his inamorata, Mara.
Seems as if Reggie's days couldn't get any more rainy, then up pops a pic in one of the infamous London tabloids: His inamorata, actress Laura Rankin, in bikini delicto with media mogul Robert Buxton, on a Siamese shore.
Can she really be changing her buxom-o tune for Buxton?
Well, he has mega-millions, and Reggie has ... a rather idle secretary.
And those letters to Holmes, which are again becoming curioser and curioser.
Going against his grain (and you'll learn why, plus why Reggie and Nigel became barristers), Reggie accepts a criminal case involving a Black Cab driver accused of murdering two of his passengers, an American couple who have sloshed it up at a Covent Garden pub.
Reggie is thus wrought up in a plot that emerges as more of a "what's at the bottom of all this" than a pro forma whodunit.
This second novel in Robertson's series offers plenty of fast-paced fare-- more along the lines of a New York City cab ride than a London one-- lively and inviting in large part because of its three engaging central characters: Reggiie, Nigel, and Laura.
For that matter, Robertson exhibits a fine hand with all his characters, and this novel plays even better than the first, in generous measure because of its many colorful London locales.
Holmes afficionadoes will pick up on the allusions to the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle oeuvre, but one needn't be a Holmes devotee in order to get a kick out of the Brothers Heath.
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