Thursday, April 7, 2011

Michael Robertson follows his debut with another intriguing Sherlock Holmes mystery

I said I would read the second novel in this series. To be honest, I will read however many more Michael Robertson decides to write.

The Brothers of Baker Street

The Brothers of Baker Street (274 pages, Minotaur Books, $24.99), Michael Roberston’s sequel to The Baker Street Letters, takes up where the first novel left off. Reggie is back in London trying to make a go of his law office—he is a barrister—and Nigel is off in California with the girl he met there in the earlier novel.

When Reggie is approached by a solicitor who asks him to defend a London cabbie who has been accused of killing an American couple, he is at first very hesitant. In the first place, he has sworn off criminal cases—an earlier defendant he had cleared of killing his wife went home on his release and killed his mother-in-law—and is loath to take on a crime of this sort. Secondly, his is unsure of the motive in this killing, and he doesn’t want to defend what he doesn’t understand.

When he meets the cabbie, however, he likes him, and he recognizes that the other man’s background is rather similar to his own. The cabbie insists on his innocence, and no forensic evidence has been found in his cab. The authorities claim that he had the cab cleaned to clear it of evidence, but he argues that his regular weekly cleaning was all he did. Witnesses place him at the crime scene at the very time when he claims to have been returning home to the other side of London.

Reggie decides to take the case on, and as it is going into a preliminary hearing, Reggie receives a hand-typed note that tells him a way to get his client off. He uses it—it has to do with CATV camera footage that puts his client where he says he was--and the cabbie goes free. That is all well and good, but when some time later Reggie goes to see the cabbie, he not only finds the cabbie murdered, but he finds that he is himself accused of the crime—standing over the body with a bloody knife that he found of the scene perhaps gave the police that idea.

In any case, with Reggie in over his head, Laura, his sometime girlfriend who is now engaged to a Murdoch-like news mogul, summons Nigel from California, and together they try to find ways to prove Reggie’s innocence. The bothers are very different, and Nigel’s careful attention to minute detail helps to turn the tides. But so does Laura’s ability to get her boyfriend to spring for the one million pounds bail.

When Reggie gets out of prison, he goes searching for the attorney who engaged him in the first place. While she can’t be found, he starts getting wild communications from a woman who calls herself a descendant of Professor Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes’s nemesis who died in a fall in Switzerland.

With this new Moriarty hounding him, his brother outdoing him in detection, and Laura running around in limousines, Reggie has all he can do to look at himself in the mirror. But he manages to do more than that and to bring the case to an exciting conclusion.

Michael Robertson is having a lot of fun with these novels, and there is no reason why we shouldn't share in the fun. I hope he writes many more.

Michael Robertson

The Brothers of Baker Street is available at Powell's, Vroman's and Amazon.

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