Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Irregular Lives: The Untold Story of Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars
Once again, I'm hooked on a new Sherlock Holmes novel, this one by Kim Krisco. I always enjoy it when the “Baker Street Irregulars” show up in a Sherlock Holmes story, and this tale is a particularly touching one. For readers not familiar with the canon, the Irregulars were a group of street urchins in three of the original adventures written by Sir Arthur Canon Doyle (A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four, and “The Adventure of the Crooked Man,” one of the stories in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.) Basically a street gang, they are led by a boy named Wiggins, and Sherlock employs them as street spies.
Irregular Lives jumps forward to the year 1919. WWI is over, but future threats to world peace loom. In Ireland, the Irish Republican Army is fighting British forces. Against this backdrop, Holmes, who has retired to his farm in Sussex Downs, receives an invitation by a mysterious S. P. Fields to a photography exhibit on Russell Square in London. Naturally, he attends, and finds the photographs are pictures of the “Irregulars” when they were children. Each photograph brings a memory of a particular case, and each case stirs emotions in Holmes, a man famous for keeping his life cerebral.
Then a second invitation to a special dinner at a posh home in Belgravia comes for both Holmes and Watson. They arrive and find all of the adult Irregulars in the photographs are there to honor the impact Holmes had on their lives. All but two, that is—Wiggins and Ruck. Those present have struggled up from their former Spitalfields lives, though, to Holmes’s dismay, the host works for an armament company. Then Wiggins shows up in a dreadful state and Ruck enters, packing a gun. What began as an inspiring evening evolves into a case that involves blackmail, murder, kidnapping, armaments dealing, a secret new weapon, the IRA, and Holmes’s personal enemy, the daughter of Moriarty.
The story is told in multiple points of view, and the author gives us a more rounded out Sherlock without changing his basic nature. The first part of the book sets the reader up nicely for the personalities of the adult Irregulars and Holmes’s reluctant awakening to an almost “parental” concern for them. The author has also made the London of George V palpable. The reader can walk the streets of that era in all the neighborhoods mentioned and almost see them and feel them firsthand. This is historical fiction at its best, as well as a deeply engrossing adventure that draws the reader in until the last page.
Kim Krisco writes both fiction and nonfiction. You can learn more about him on his Amazon author page HERE (and pre-order his book as well. It will be released November 16, 2016.)
You can connect with him on Facebook HERE