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by Sam Siciliano
Titan, May 2024
320 pages
ISBN: 1803369442

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Sherlock Holmes and Edward Hyde. Sherlock Holmes and Dorian Gray. Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper. Sherlock Holmes and Dracula. There's even been a Sherlock Holmes mashup in which he meets creatures from the paranoid fantasy universe of H.P. Lovecraft. George Bernard Shaw once wrote that the courtroom drama is the last refuge of the barren melodramatist. It isn't. That last refuge, it seems, is the Holmes mashup in which he meets another canonical cutout, preferably in a high silk hat.

The latest entry into this moribund tradition is Sam Siciliano's THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE GENTLEMAN BURGLAR. The gentleman burglar in question is Arsène Lupin, the thief and master of disguise invented by French writer Maurice Leblanc in 1905. Sherlock owes his encounter with Lupin, and his presence in France, to his cousin Vernier presumably the offspring of the French aunt mentioned in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes canon; the aunt with the musical ability that Holmes appears to have inherited.

Siciliano brings fin-de-siecle Paris to life reasonably believably. Vernier plays the Watson role, tagging along as Holmes investigates the mystery of a cache of French royal jewels, hidden in a place known as "the Needle of Creuse." The client who is obsessed with this treasure is the mysterious, effete Baron de Chamerac, and his even more mysterious niece is dangerously charming. This plot is equal parts the canonical adventures THE SIGN OF THE FOUR and "The Musgrave Ritual," crossed with Dan Brown. (Ancient treasures! Evil doomed kings! Massive European conspiracies!)

In the way is the audacious Lupin. As a "gentleman cambrioleur," Lupin promises to provide the Paris police "with several new crimes" for their "consideration," including daring jewel and art heists, but he promises not to kill anyone. Holmes is impressed by this most "flamboyant and literate" thief. Eventually, Holmes and Vernet agree to team up with Lupin.

There's a bit of irony. Holmes is aware of his portrayal in the STRAND magazine, and hates Sidney Paget's drawings, which he fancies misrepresent him. If you like solving Da Vinci Code type puzzles, you will enjoy this book. If you like your mysteries to take you on tours of European tourist attractions and sublime landscapes, Siciliano will do that. As a treasure hunt, the novel doesn't disappoint. If there are in-jokes for fans of Leblanc, I would not know, for I have not read the Lupin stories. As a Sherlockean pastiche, and nothing more, THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE GENTLEMAN BURGLAR will do nicely.

§ Rebecca Nesvet is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and co-edits Reviewing the Evidence.

Reviewed by Rebecca Nesvet, May 2024

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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