Review: The Return of Moriarty by John Gardner

Description (from cover):

‘Once again, the game is afoot…

What really happened in Switzerland between Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes in 1891? And why is Holmes, now in London at 221B Baker Street, curiously uncooperative with Scotland Yard’s inquiries? Furthermore, why has Moriarty planned a grand meeting with the international crime syndicate? These are the questions that make up the larger mystery of the sinister Professor Moriarty’s return.’

My thoughts:

We all know Sherlock Holmes survived the fall at Reichenbach Falls, but what if Professor Moriarty, his nemesis, survived as well? That is exactly what has happened in this novel and we follow Moriarty as he returns from exile and makes his way back to his rightful place as head of a huge crime syndicate in London. He returns after three years and finds that in his absence things didn’t exactly go as he planned. He now has a rival gang encroaching on his territory and Moriarty is determined to show London just who rules the crime in that city. Using the intelligence that even Sherlock Holmes admires, he quickly shows London exactly who is boss.

I love Sherlock Holmes and have been a fan of the great detective for years. When you read the Holmes stories that feature Moriarty, you can’t help but hate him and pull for Sherlock to outwit him in every way. I remain true to the ‘canon’ of the Sherlock Holmes stories and rarely read any sequels or stories not written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself. I remain a purist to the original stories, or the ‘canon’, and don’t like to mar my view of Sherlock Holmes with other author’s portrayal of him. So for me to pick up this book and really enjoy it, was rare. I strongly advise, before reading this novel, that you read the original stories because if you don’t a lot of the references in this book will confuse you.

I loved how this book is in Moriarty’s view. Sherlock Holmes is present in this novel, but not in the way that we’re used to seeing him. He plays a very minor role in this story and doesn’t do any detecting or prevention of Moriarty’s sinister plans. So if you’re looking for a book that features the Holmes we all know and love, this book is definitely not for you. Moriarty as a character in the ‘canon’ isn’t very detailed. We don’t know much about him or his background, we just know that he is Holmes’ rival and that they match in intelligence. This book clears up a lot of Moriarty’s background and we learn exactly who he is and how he got to be where he is today. It was a complete surprise to find myself actually caring, yes caring, about Professor Moriarty and wanting to see him regain his rightful place as head of the London underworld.

Gardner writes beautifully and captures the feeling that the Holmes’ stories have provided for readers throughout the years. It is simply amazing. I don’t think that I can describe perfectly into words how awesome of a read this book was for a Sherlock Holmes fanatic. It is in a completely different realm than we are used to as readers and it really works. It was nice to branch out and try something new. A great read and I can’t wait to see what happens in the sequel, The Revenge of Moriarty. I actually am reading that one right now and am anxious to see what our nemesis gets himself into now. A great read for Holmes’ fans and one I don’t think will disappoint.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Title:  The Return of Moriarty
Author:  John Gardner
Series:  Professor Moriarty #1
Publisher:  Pegasus, Reprint
Publication Date:  June 1, 2012
Pages:  304
Genre:  Historical Mystery
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was purchased by myself and I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

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