In the follow-up to Son of Holmes John Lescroart once again brings to the reader the character of Auguste Lupa, who is, well, the son of Sherlock Holmes, and Irene Adler. After helping the French intelligence thwart a plot to sabotage the allied efforts in WW1, Lupa is reunited with agent Jules Giraud to investigate intrigue in the court of Czar Nicholas.
It’s again WW1, this time it is in Russia and Czar Nicholas is wavering in his support to keep the German’s occupied on the eastern front. At court there has been a series of mysterious deaths and other shenanigans amongst the social elite of the day, and it is all undermining the Czar’s commitment to the war effort. Giraud is sent to Moscow to try and curry favour with Nicholas and to promise weapons should the Czar continue fighting the Germans. Meanwhile, Lupa happens to pop up under the guise as chef to the Czar, but in reality is there to investigate the murders. And so the duo set about investigating some strange goings on.
Central to all of the oddness at court is the rapscallion Rasputin. His influence over the Czarina is seen by many to be taking the Royal family on a path to destruction yet his hold over the family is unbreakable. Why? And just what is he plotting revenge for and who is it against?
There is beer, fine food, love, intrigue and the usual dashings of deductive reasoning, as well as a guest appearance from a familiar pair who come in late to save the day.
But, it is all pretty staid. Whilst Son of Holmes had many plus points Rasputin’s Revenge simply lacks bite. It meanders along with all the pace of Lupa (an overweight beer drinker) going up a hill with a fridge on his back. I was quite looking forward to this book after the first in the series but would regard it as something of a let down. Lescroart is a prolific author who has gone on to great success and these pastiches (1986 & 1987 respectively) were his only books in the series. Seems a wise choice to have stopped at this one.