In a momentous period of British history, Donald Thomas' latest Sherlock Holmes adventure pits the great detective and his faithful biographer, Dr. John Watson, against an international conspiracy led by a disgraced English officer.
Colonel Hunter Moran bears upon him the "Mark of the Beast"; his satanic ingenuity leaves a spectacular trail of devastation. It runs from the annihilation of a British armored column by Zulu tribesmen - armed only with shields and spears - to a life-and-death struggle on the sinking passenger steamer Comtesse de Flandre.
The heir to the French empire lies dead in the African dust. Europe is brought to the brink of war by forged dispatches, designed to enrich gun-runners and assassins. The gold fields and diamond mines of South Africa become the playground of organized crime. Only the detective genius of Holmes can prove a match for the unfolding criminality of Moran and his associates. With Watson and Mycroft at his side, Sherlock Holmes again demonstrates that although the powers of the state and the underworld may try to overpower him, they will never out-think his splendid analytical mind at the height of its powers.
"Master pasticher Thomas demonstrates that his gifts at creating new Holmes short stories...extend to the harder task of sustaining character, atmosphere, and plot over a full-length novel, something that Conan Doyle himself struggled with.... As with the best emulations of the originals, Thomas maintains both the proper tone and spirit, while presenting new facets of both the doctor and the detective that ring true." (Publishers Weekly)
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Not convincing as a Sherlock Holmes
It was a dreary account of the horrors of of bygone wars and just went on and on about it, boring and unpleasant. I didn't read the book to read a war story.
- Clare Skelton