Reviewed by Erin Britton

In Knife Edge, young Sherlock Holmes is back from his Paradol Chamber-enforced sojourn to China and once again finds himself thrust into the middle of deadly deception and international intrigue. Disembarking from the Gloria Scott in Galway with the intention of securing the fastest transport possible back to England and his old life, Sherlock is surprised and more than a little pleased to be met at the docks by his older brother Mycroft. Of course, where Mycroft Holmes is concerned matters are never straightforward and, while he is sincerely pleased to see his younger brother return home unharmed, he also has an ulterior motive for meeting Sherlock in Ireland.

Mycroft is on a mission for the British Government and is tasked with investigating the bona fides of a supposed psychic named Ambrose Albano who is currently holed up in Cloon Ard Castle, home of Sir Shadrach Quintillan. Quintillan intends to run an auction in which representatives of various international powers will be able to bid for the opportunity to have Albano use his psychic powers exclusively for the benefit of their government. Mycroft has been sent to Ireland to act as the British representative at the auction but first he is tasked with ascertaining whether Ambrose Albano is actually the legitimate, powerful psychic that he claims to be. It is for this investigation that Mycroft hopes to make use of his brother Sherlock’s noted skills at rational deduction.

Knife Edge has all the action and fiendish puzzles that fans of the Young Sherlock Holmes series have come to expect and enjoy. As a young man Sherlock is not yet quite the logician that he will become but he still has a keen eye for detail, a healthy scepticism and a knack for getting straight to the root of a problem. Sherlock is really the ideal assistant for Mycroft as he attempts to discover the truth behind Ambrose Albano’s claims of mystic powers and tries to assess the action that his fellow international representatives will take in the matter. As ever, the potential villains that Sherlock faces are a clever, tricksy bunch and so Andrew Lane’s descriptions of their battles of wits are both thrilling and intriguing. While it’s clear that both Mycroft and Sherlock are sceptical about the whole psychic biz from the beginning their investigative process and the manner in which Lane reveals the clues means that it’s surprisingly difficult to reach a solid conclusion about Albano until quite a way into the book.

It’s also not just dubious psychics that Sherlock has to face: there are rumours that a Beast has been seen stalking the grounds of Cloon Ard Castle and when a maid is found dead the servants are convinced that the Beast must be responsible. And, as if potentially malevolent mentalists and mythical beasts weren’t bad enough, Sherlock also has to figure out what’s afoot in the love triangle that he has somehow ended up in. Virginia Crowe may have ended their nascent relationship with a Dear John letter after Sherlock was kidnapped during the events of Snake Bite [a pretty harsh move that echoes forward into some of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories] but she’s still distinctly on the interested side. That’s only half of Sherlock’s women trouble though as Shadrach Quintillan’s daughter Niamh also seems to very much enjoy Sherlock’s company. Despite all this, there’s no need to worry that Sherlock might be getting soppy, he’s still far more cerebral than emotional and much more likely to get lost in a good mystery than in a romantic entanglement.

Knife Edge is another thrilling adventure for young Sherlock Holmes that speeds along at breakneck pace as the [soon-to-be] great detective attempts to outsmart the multifarious villains and discover exactly what is going on at Cloon Ard Castle. There’s plenty of action and danger as well as mental puzzles and more than a few laughs involved in Sherlock’s investigation and so Knife Edge is really an excellent read.

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Erin Britton

Baba predicted that Erin Britton would be a late baby and, lo, one Sunday evening in March of 1982 she arrived just in time for tea. Imagine her disappointment to discover that there was no cake. Erin aged and enjoys etymology, philosophy, classics, Roma history, comics, and films featuring Leslie Nielsen. Claudius is still her favourite Caesar. Erin sometimes tweets, chirps and shrieks @EzzBrit. So it goes.

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