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The Bartered Brides
An Elemental Masters Novel
by Mercedes Lackey
DAW Books; $27; 314 pp
Published: October 2018

Sherlock Holmes is dead! Fallen at Reichenbach Falls in a struggle to the death with Professor Moriarty!  Or did he?

Lackey has decided to give us a tale about the end of Sherlock Holmes greatest nemesis, Professor Moriarty who fell off the path by Reichebach Falls in Germany, held in the deep beneath the thundering waters by John Watson’s water elementals until he was quite and utterly dead. Sherlock lets the world think he is dead too, so he can track down the rest of Moriarty’s Organization and make sure they are all disposed of as well.

Back in London, John and Mary Watson, psychic Nan Killian and medium Sarah Lyon-White are having tea discussing the horrible news about Sherlock when the landlady brings up an old crone who says she knows them.  It is Sherlock who lets them in on his plan and tells them he will remain dead and incommunicado as long as it suits him as he seeks out the Organization.

Sarah, Nan and John and Mary are not left adrift. Someone is killing young women and throwing their headless bodies into the Thames. Why headless? Therein lays the tale of a nasty necromancer working horrid magic in hopes of reanimating Professor Moriarty by exchanging his spirit with a dying young man to bring Moriarty back into the human world and into power once again.

So the women and the Watsons are knee-deep in trying to track down the dead women and find out what’s going on and who is behind the heinous crimes.  Before they start their search, Sarah makes friends with an active, intelligent ghost named Caro who died of tuberculosis and is connected to a locket that was once hers that Sarah found in a pawnshop. Caro is delighted to help them and of course, proves invaluable.

This is a wonderful, creepy tale dripping with Victorian sensibilities and glowing with the strength and intelligence of the female characters and the stalwart Dr.Watson.  Slowly but slowly they narrow down where the necromancer is working from in London and then it’s all hellza’ poppin’ when it all comes to a head.

This was a great story, very, very entertaining (as are all of Lackey’s Elemental Masters tales). A great read and will make a great holiday gift. ~~ Sue Martin

For other titles by Mercedes Lackey click here
For other titles in the Elemental Masters series click here

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