I like steampunk and I like Sherlock Holmes, so what could go wrong with a Holmes & steampunk cross over? Arguably this has partly been done with George Mann’s Newbury & Hobbes books where a suspiciously Holmes-like chap uses his investigative powers to battle occult forces in Victorian London, steampunk style.
However, in Legacy of the Nautilus author P. C. Martin goes straight into a world where Watson has a bionic arm, guns and all, Holmes has a powerful motorbike called the Widowmak’r and Mycroft is a beautiful woman.
This book is effectively a re-imagining of not only the characters but also an original ACD Holmes story, The Adventure of the Bruce-Partingdon Plans, where Holmes and Watson have to find stolen papers which could enable the enemy, in the crucial pre-War period, build a submarine.
The opening of the plot is familiar. A government employee is found dead on a railway track with critical papers missing that could assist the enemy. Even the *how* as to the way the body got to be where it was is almost identical.
However, what Martin does well is to stretch this story to novella length as she offers up some action to bring the steampunk attributes of the team to life. The papers, whilst also concerning a submarine, are actually design info for the Nautilus; the famous ship of Captain Nemo.
Holmes, Watson and Mycroft get involved in a chase around London with Pierre Nemo, an offspring of the now dead Captain, at the heart of the intrigue.
There are fight scenes, grand observations, disguises and all things Holmes but with the usual smattering of steampunk lore to boot.
There is enough original thought in the book to make it interesting but perhaps not enough to make it memorable. It reminded of hearing a young band cover one of your favourite songs. It is nice and you enjoy the recognition but in the end you still prefer the original.
Martin deserves credit for her ambition, but I can’t help feeling she should have gone with an entirely original story rather than re-hash an ACD classic. Also, there were a couple of grating inconsistencies in the book (like Vickie later being referred to as Vicky) and the use of Mycroft as a woman had no real purpose unless she intended marrying her with Watson in a later story.