The Moonstone's Curse
For Siciliano's fifth novel Holmes and Vernier are back in London during summertime. The high-strung Alice Bromley has inherited a family heirloom stolen from India by her great-uncle, an incredible diamond—the Moonstone. Alice is convinced the diamond has brought her family nothing but bad luck and that it is cursed. She would like to return the jewel to India, but her husband Charles Bromley thinks this is superstitious nonsense and will not hear of it. All the same, when Alice claims to see a mysterious Indian lurking about, Bromley goes to Holmes for help. Bromley has resolved to humor Alice and lock up the Moonstone in a bank vault, but first he will host a final dinner party with the Moonstone on display. Holmes and Vernier attend. The gathering ends in disarray with an outburst by the half-drunk Alice, and worse is soon to follow. Along the way, a jeweler who knows the Bromleys is brutally murdered, and Holmes must untangle the complicated history of the diamond and all the people caught up in its sinister net.
This book was inspired by Wilkie Collins's classic novel of 1868, The Moonstone, which many consider the first and best mystery novel. Siciliano uses its events as a backstory which took place some fifty years earlier. Both Alice Bromley and the explorer Jack Murthwaite are descendants of Collins's original characters. Collins based the Moonstone itself on the Koh-i-Noor diamond taken by the English from India and given to Queen Victoria, to become a part of the crown jewels. Unusual for his time, Collins is rather sympathetic to the Indians in his book and considers the bloody theft of the jewel a crime.
From the reviews:
Siciliano continues to excel in the niche he’s created for himself in the ever-growing universe of new Sherlock Holmes novels. Like most of his previous pastiches, his fifth (after 2016’s The White Worm) is inspired by a well-known work of suspense fiction—this time, Wilkie Collins’s seminal The Moonstone. About 50 years after the events of that book, the legendary curse of the diamond known as the Moonstone casts a pall over the life of Alice Bromley, whose great-great-uncle stole it from India in 1799. Alice has inherited a life-interest in the jewel, but views that as a burden and now fears that a mysterious Indian man she has spotted lurking outside her London home has designs on it. Her attentive husband, Charles, seeks out Holmes for help, and the detective agrees to assess the safety measures that Charles has taken to safeguard the gem from theft before one last public display. Siciliano has devised an intelligent challenge for the iconic character, who’s faithful to Conan Doyle’s original, notwithstanding the use of a Watson substitute for the tale’s narrator.
Publishers Weekly, May 15, 2017