Baker Street Beat isn’t a book review blog, so I seldom write about current books. This will be an exception because I think the tome in question is exceptional.
Chris Chan’s Sherlock’s Secretary (MX Publishing) isn’t a pastiche. It’s a humous mystery that is both laugh-out-loud funny and also mysterious, with a solution that is surprising yet easy to follow without making a chart. It was nominated "Best Comedy" by the Killer Nashville mystery con, with the winner to be announced next month.
Protagonist Adalbert “Addy” Zhuang’s job is, in part, to answer letters to addressed to Sherlock Holmes at 221B Baker Street, which is in reality the address of Addy’s employer, a bank. It’s a dream job for a Holmesian, until Addy is held up and robbed of three letters to the Master.
Who would do such a thing? Finding police interest somewhere between slim and none, Addy sets out to solve the mystery by going to the authors of the letters. Fortunately, he is aided in this endeavor by a true crime podcaster named Zabel Carvalho, with whom he is besotted.
The first two letter writers are amusingly eccentric; the third has been murdered just before Addy and Zabel show up.
One description of the book says that it is not only a whodunit but also a whydunit. I would call it a “whatsup,” which is my term for a story in which the central problem is not who or why but what—as in “what the devil is going on.” Many of the canonical Sherlock Holmes tales are like that (think “The Red-Headed League”), so the subgenre is quite appropriate for this story about Sherlock’s secretary.
Mrs. Baker Street Beat (Ann Brauer Andriacco) and I don’t always agree on our reactions to books, but we both highly enjoyed this quick read and look forward to more Addy and Zabel adventures. This is planned to be the start of a trilogy, but I hope it won't stop there.