London, 1919. While the world awaits the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, Holmes and Watson are called to a singular mystery. A severed hand has been found on the banks of the Thames, a hand belonging to a soldier who supposedly died in the trenches. But the hand is fresh, and show signs that it was recently amputated. So how has it ended up back in London two years after its owner was killed? Warned by Sherlock’s brother Mycroft to cease their investigation, and only barely surviving an attack by a superhuman creature; Holmes and Watson begin to suspect a conspiracy at the very heart of the British government …
I am sitting here, writing this review, and I realize, I am in a bit of trouble. I can’t remember much about the book, I know, it’s just a couple of days, since I finished it. But it just faded away. Am I suffering from amnesia? I just struggle to find any traces of the story in my memory. Was I brainwashed by some secret government institution or was it that giant dog that attacked me last night while I was taking a walk on the moors, hitting me on the head with its monstrous claws?
Okay, let me pull my thoughts together! Here is, what I remember:
It starts with some geezer whose sister has disappeared and he wants Sherlock Holmes to help him find her. They wrap this thing up very quickly and Holmes is visited by an inspector Tovey, who is an old friend of him. He guides him to the river banks where a severed body part was found. It is the hand of a soldier who died in the recent World War. Where did his freshly amputated hand come from? In their investigations Sherlock and Co. happen upon some medical facility, where they find evidence of creepy experiments that were conducted there, but by whom and why remains a mystery. Watson also finds a weird piece of bone or cartilage which seems to be of special significance.
Then around the middle after a brutal attack by some unknown assailant a wounded Sherlock Holmes disappears and Watson is left to his own devices to get him back. This is where the tale could start to get interesting. Alas, the disappearance is cleared up very quickly and the story soon falls back into a familiar rhythm. Sherlock figures things out, Watson tags along and Tovey does his best as a Lestrade/Gregson surrogate. While the characterisation of Holmes is solid, Watson fares less well, seeming to have turned into an old diva, constantly quarrelling and moaning about everything. And don’t even get me started on his wife, that stupid cow who is just such a nuisance that I wanted to slap her every moment she opened her mouth: “OMG, John! You could have died! You must get away from that terrible Mr. Holmes, he is leading you astray! Come home to me where you can lead a completely dull and pointless life! I’m sure that’s what your readers would want to hear about.”
But, enough of this nonsense, I am going to spoil it for you: This is basically Sherlock Holmes vs. Frankenstein. And herein lies the problem: Frankenstein is horror not mystery. It is a human drama, a tragedy, but there is not much here for a detective to figure out. I can also remember at least one other Sherlock-Holmes-pastiche with a somehow similar plot, meaning that this is not even the first Frankenstein/Holmes crossover.
The bottom line is: I wouldn’t recommend this one. It’s not offensively awful, just completely unmemorable and would have really worked better as a short story.