It’s a joy to revisit the world of Sherlock Holmes with author Richard T. Ryan and his latest novella, The Merchant of Menace. Holmes and Watson need to catch a thief who’s angling for priceless, one-of-a-kind items. And threatening the owners’ loved ones as he does so. Like one of his previous works, The Druid of Death, Ryan takes his readers to various English and French locales. Be prepared to visit Blenheim Palace, Hatchards book shop, and The Louvre.

Ryan captures the interplay between Holmes and Watson perfectly, giving both a strong role in the solution. Then he throws in a variety of real-life objects, locations, and historical people. Stir it together, brew a pot of tea, and you have a perfect rainy afternoon’s reading.

I read this on just such a day, and by the end I found myself searching the Internet for more details about the true details in the story. But don’t think this is all about famous events. No, in fact, the mystery lives firmly at Baker Street and with Sherlock Holmes. Ryan takes reality and weaves it together with Sherlockian mythology and a fun mystery.

My conclusions

Richard Ryan is a scholar of history, as well as a writer of mystery. He’s an accomplished historic name-dropper, in the best sense of the word. Every time I read one of his books, I learn something new. Still, he never lets historical information overshadow the complexity of Holmes’ and Watson’s case du jour.

Plot, pacing, and dialogue hit all the right notes in The Merchant of Menace. Sherlock is still thoughtless in his assessment of Watson’s deductive capabilities. Watson tries to show his skills, but his true talent is capturing the action in his story.

Friends, just go read this novella. Richard T. Ryan has an extraordinary way with Sherlockian stories!