The Web Weaver
Siciliano brings back Holmes and his cousin Henry Vernier for a second adventure, this time in London, rather than Paris. Occupied with a trivial but bizarre case involving a gypsy curse, Holmes meets a truly remarkable woman. Witty and intelligent, black haired and beautiful, Violet Wheelwright can play Bach partitas exquisitely on her Guarnieri del Gesu violin. But Violet, a friend of Holmes' cousin Henry Vernier and his wife Michelle, is trapped in a loveless marriage to the son of wealthy manufacturer of potted beef. Soon, however, Holmes and the others find themselves entangled in a vast dark web involving prostitution, perversion, theft, blackmail and swindles. Holmes wonders if a brain akin to Moriarty's could lurk behind it all. As the threats to Violet mount, Holmes is drawn in deeper and deeper, but even as tantalizing hints of a solution arise, the case grows ever more hopeless for everyone involved.
This is Siciliano's longest, most complex and ambitious published novel. Holmes pastiches often aim for the perpetual adolescent in us all, but Siciliano tried this time to write one for grown ups, while still attempting to be true to Victorian sensibilities and the character of Holmes.
From the reviews:
Despite some gratuitous shots at Dr. Watson, Siciliano's second pastiche is an improvement over his first, The Angel of the Opera, presenting a non-canonical view of Holmes that remains persuasive. Once again, the narrator is another doctor, Holmes' cousin Henry Vernier. On a visit by Vernier to Baker Street, Holmes reveals that "Watson's stories to the contrary, most crimes and criminals are stupid," and that the Moriarty of "The Final Problem" was a "complete fiction." Notwithstanding that, the detective has begun to believe that a real mastermind is at work behind the scenes of London crime. Holmes is consulted by Donald Wheelwright, heir to a potted meat business, who wants him to look into an incident from two years earlier; a female gypsy crashed a society ball, and cursed the attendees with a prophesy of ruin and early death, which preceded at least one violent death. The author's alterations in Holmes' personality might have had more power with Watson as storyteller, but there are enough positives to make this enjoyable.
Publishers Weekly, February 13, 2012