WHO KILLED SHERLOCK HOLMES? by PAUL CORNELL*
PB, 357 pages, Pan Macmillan
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This review contains spoilers for all three books in the Shadow Police series, so tread carefully…
When we left DI James Quill and his Shadow Police team, burdened with keeping London safe from occult forces only the gifted can see, Quill had literally dragged himself from the depths of Hell, and that journey has left him with a terrible knowledge that will impact on everyone he has ever met. Wrestling with his secret, Quill is unravelling, and his unit is crumbling.
Lisa Ross is desperate to win back her future happiness, and that desire draws her into a dangerous liaison, Sefton is struggling with the Sight, and even Tony Costain, bad cop gone good, isn’t quite himself these days. When the sight calls the Shadow Police team to investigate the murder of London’s most famous detective, they find themself drawn into a spiral of lies, half-truths and misleading clues leading to murder after murder, that even the victim himself would struggle to unravel. While the Shadow Police are always a step behind, in another part of London their boss Rebecca Lofthouse has her own assignation with the Smiling Man. One that will leave her changed forever.
Where The Severed Streets was more Quill’s story, Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? definitely belongs to Ross and the previously-little-seen Lofthouse, who betrays and goes to depths that would catch even a reader who has been immersed in the series so far by surprise. Quill’s emotional battering in Hell forces him onto the back foot for much of the novel, pushed around by dark forces. Ross’s side-quest to retrieve her future happiness has repercussions for both herself, the team and the ongoing plot, as she finds herself entangled and tangling with a plummy voiced Sherlockian actor with a silly name who is more than he might appear. And while the appearance of Neil Gaiman in a previous book sounded a slightly duff note, one “Gilbert Flamstead” in Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? is an absolute delight.
The writing displays Cornell’s love for the genre, and for playing around with it – there are plenty of puns and in-jokes, and its clear to see he’s having entirely too much fun 😉 Despite the serial murders, this feels like a far lighter book than The Severed Streets, and even though it leaves the reader with the threat of Shadow London hanging over the team, there are glimpses of redemption for both Ross and Quill that lead the reader to the feeling that no matter how dark things get in the shadows, there’s always some light…
*I recieved this book for free in exchange for an honest review.