A frantic mother comes to SHERLOCK HOLMES, begging him to find her son, a navy officer who has not returned from the war in South Africa. He has been labeled a deserter, yet she is sure he would never abandon his men. Holmes and Watson begin their own inquiries, but encounter resistance from the establishment, and an attempt is made on Holmes’s life. So begins a tale of intrigue and empire, as Holmes and Watson uncover a conspiracy that goes far beyond one missing sailor...
By making Dr. Watson a plausible active partner in detection, Savile and Greenberger succeed with their enjoyable pastiche debut. It's 1881, and Holmes and Watson, who have been roommates for a short while, are just getting used to each other and struggling to make ends meet. They become involved in a complex case after Holmes is consulted by Hermione Wynter, an elderly widow distraught over the unknown fate of her son, Norbert, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Norbert was serving in South Africa but did not return to England with the rest of his shipmates. After encountering official resistance to her inquiries, his mother was told that he was MIA and that there was evidence that he was a deserter. Holmes and Watson are also made unwelcome when they inquire about Norbert's whereabouts and the basis for the allegation against him. The investigation takes some surprising detours, but the authors make their premise believable. Healthy doses of humor compensate for a few lapses in style (e.g., Watson calls his friend Sherlock).