If you hunger for more stories about the indomitable Sherlock Holmes but can’t get a regular fix, you might want try another dynamic duo. Yes, detectives ‘a deux’ will always be compared to the great Holmes and Watson but despite some obvious similarities, the pairing of Sir Maurice Newbury and Veronica Hobbes offers a slightly different take on detection.
‘The Immorality Engine’ is the second in a series of novels and in this one the secrets which they keep from each other make the solving of crimes not necessarily straightforward. Their relationship is full of holes but they keep trying to paper over them.
Veronica’s sister, Amelia, has been taken into the protective custody of a therapist who says he can cure her. There is no reason to be suspicious but then again because the therapist is also physician to Queen Victoria. This is no benign monarch but one whose life has been artificially extended, sitting like an evil bloated spider at the centre of a rather perilous web.
Meanwhile, there is something dastardly taking place, as duplicate murder victims appear in the streets of Victorian England. As our Newbury and Hobbes offer their assistance to their good friend Bainbridge of Scotland Yard, things get increasingly weird and dangerous for them.
Great fun with a nice whopping climactic finish, this is a good example of a book that could be dramatised to great effect if only the BBC could break into the piggy bank. This has lots of bells and whistles with the steampunk themes sitting alongside a good old-fashioned story.
(pub: TOR/Forge. 347 page small hardback. Price: $24.99 (US), $28.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-2775-8)