Very rarely does a title sum up a book perfectly, but in the case of The Return of Moriarty by John E. Gardner it does. Three years after the incident at Reichenbach Falls, not only is Sherlock Holmes back in London, but so is his nemesis Professor Moriarty. Obviously, this novel is really only for Holmes fans, since it assumes that you know something of the history of the two men.

Moriarty’s back and he needs to put his “family” in order, as Moran has been rather lax in his oversight during Moriarty’s absense. Moran, you may remember, is the man who attempts to kill Holmes in “The Empty House,” Moriarty’s right hand man. Interestingly the events in that short story are retold here, but from Moran and Moriarty’s points of view.

The story is rather slow-moving and while a lot happens, nothing really happens. There are some fights with a rival organization, some planning for world chaos, a touch of romance between two members of Moriarty’s household, but when it boils down none of it is importants except that Moriarty has returned, alive and well, and ready to get back to what he does best.

I was listening to this on audio and almost quit less than a third of the way in, but instead I kind of settled into the rhythm of the story, to hearing about the characters and their lives. Moriarty himself is a fascinating man in this book. He’s a master of disguise, like someone else we know, he rules his “kingdom” with an iron hand but can be generous to those who are loyal and honest to him. I never really rooted for him necessarily, but he had a sort of magnetism.

He also get a new detecitve on his trail, Crow from Scotland Yard, who is closing in on him, but seems destined to remain just a step behind.

It’s by no means a must-read, even for Holmes fans, but it is eventually an absorbing story. Don’t expect to see Holmes in this story; he won’t step in to save London from Moriarty at this time.

3½ out of 5 stars

Category: Mystery & Detective

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Professor Moriarty #1
First published 1974
12 hours 57 minutes

Book source: Library

Professor Moriarty Trilogy

  1. The Return of Moriarty
  2. The Revenge of Moriarty
  3. Moriarty