The Three Locks is the latest novel from Bonnie MacBird to feature Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. There are three cases sort of interwoven together in one story. The Victorian duo are pulled into the world of illusion and escapism when they investigate threats leveled against an escape artist. A lovesick clergyman is worried about the disappearance of a wayward daughter of a famous college don. Watson is bequeathed a locked box that reveals some painful truths about his past.
All of this takes place during a London heat wave in 1887. MacBird makes the point that it is hot at the time of these trials quite well.
I am not sure that MacBird really competes with the mastery of Arthur Conan Doyle, however this was a fine attempt. There are times it feels a little long, but I cherish the company of this character enough to not mind that so much.
MacBird makes an interesting decision to conjure up a tragic family history for Watson. She also throws in a bit of unusual amount courtesy and compassion from Holmes which still seemed to fit in nicely with the other more well-known facets of his persona. She really brings home the strength of their friendship that was often glossed over by Doyle and some of the other pastiche writers.
MacBird does well tying up all three challenges in this novel. It also felt more genuine to have Holmes take on several cases at once. Doyle would allude to some of Holmes’s other pursuits in his stories, but it was pretty unique and impressive to actually read about Holmes juggling these puzzles at once.
This turned out to be pretty enjoyable. MacBird has written four of these novels with a Christmas addition to be out soon. She gets pretty close to emulating Doyle’s style at times, but it just doesn’t quite get there. Still, I think it’s a fine addition to the massive amount of Sherlock Holmes stories floating around the universe, and I like to think that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself would get some enjoyment out of this one.
Next up, reporter Jack McEvoy has found another killer to pursue in Michael Connelly’s Fair Warning.