The Three Locks by Bonnie MacBird The Three Locks by Bonnie MacBird
Series: Sherlock Holmes Adventures #4
Published by Collins Crime Club on April 1, 2021
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
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four-half-stars

A heatwave melts London as Holmes and Watson are called to action in this new Sherlock Holmes adventure by Bonnie MacBird, author of “one of the best Sherlock Holmes novels of recent memory.”

In the West End, a renowned Italian escape artist dies spectacularly on stage during a performance – immolated in a gleaming copper cauldron of his wife’s design. In Cambridge, the runaway daughter of a famous don is found drowned, her long blonde hair tangled in the Jesus Lock on the River Cam. And in Baker Street, a mysterious locksmith exacts an unusual price to open a small silver box sent to Watson.

From the glow of London’s theatre district to the buzzing Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge where physicists explore the edges of the new science of electricity, Holmes and Watson race between the two cities to solve the murders, encountering prevaricating prestidigitators, philandering physicists and murderous mentalists, all the while unlocking secrets which may be best left undisclosed. And one, in particular, is very close to home.

The Three Locks is the fourth in MacBird’s Sherlock series, but can be read as a stand-alone. She puts her own spin on the classic characters and she brings the era to life well.

The story begins with Dr. Watson receiving a mysterious box, supposedly from his mother, who has been dead for many years. It’s locked with the first of the three locks, a lock no one can open and for which Watson doesn’t have the key.

Soon, Sherlock and Watson are approached by the first client, the wife of an Italian escape artist. She wants him to discover the truth behind the feud between her husband, The Great Borelli, and a rival magician. That night, one of Borelli’s acts goes wrong. He escapes, but barely. So, the second lock is involved in the magic tricks.

Another client presents the third lock. Peregrine Buttons, a young Catholic deacon, asks Holmes to find a missing young woman, the strong-willed Odilie Wyndham, who has disappeared from her father’s home in Cambridge. Her doll was found in the Jesus Lock on the River Cam and it seems Odilie might be in danger.

Sherlock as always finds clues the police miss, saving innocent people from being charged with murder. Both cases were interesting and had several twists. Sherlock and Watson make a good team as usual, and the supporting characters are nicely rounded out, including a couple of women who are not content with the strictures Victorian society places on them. I could have done without some of the wandering into Watson’s past, but that’s just me – apparently I don’t really want my detective’s, or side-kick’s, personal lives to take up too much space in the story.

I admit that I enjoy most Sherlock adaptations, but this series is one of the best, in my opinion.

About Bonnie MacBird

Bonnie MacBird has been a screenwriter (TRON), studio executive (Universal), producer (three Emmys), a playwright, and a classically trained actor. She teaches writing at UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program and is a regular speaker on writing, creativity, and Sherlock Holmes.

MacBird lives in Los Angeles and London.

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