Review: Michael Robertson's THE BAKER STREET LETTERS

I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan and have read most things ever written about him so when I heard about Michael Robertson’s debut novel, The Baker Street Letters, I had to get my hands on it. I’m so happy I did. It’s a funny, clever tale with only a tangential link to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation but much of the spirit of his stories.

Reggie and Nigel Heath are London barristers who have just rented offices at 221b Baker Street, well-known address for the fictional detective. The rent is cheap because part of the deal is they have to respond to mail from real people asking Holmes for help. Instead of sending a standard form letter in reply, Nigel decides to fly to Los Angeles to follow up on one, believing the young woman who wrote it is in grave danger.

Problem is, he departs without telling anyone of his plans and leaves behind a dead body in his office. Reggie must then track down his brother in America, keep Nigel away from police in both countries who want him for murder (they stumble upon more bodies in L.A.), protect the young letter-writer from very real danger, and solve the twenty-year-old case of her missing father before it reaches an explosive conclusion.

Robertson’s lively prose, strewn with dry humor, makes the pages fly by. He imbues Reggie and Nigel, as well as Reggie’s actress girlfriend Laura who tags along, with deductive skills evocative of Holmes’s. They’re an engaging lot I’d like to see more of so it’s a good thing this book is first in an intended series.

Furthermore, Warner Bros. has optioned television rights and I’ve got just the actor to play Reggie: Rupert Penry-Jones, who’s apparently available after leaving a Jerry Bruckheimer pilot. As for Nigel, I think John Simm, who starred in the BBC versions of Life on Mars and State of Play, could knock it out of the park.

Nerd verdict: Well-written Letters

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Shelley P
    July 6, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Oh, this one’s just begging to be put on screen! Thanks, PCN – I love the sound of it. Love it, love it, love it! In fact, I’m jumping it to the front of the queue in my PCN recommended reading list.

    • Reply
      Shelley P
      July 6, 2009 at 11:14 pm

      {Oops. I guess that shoves War and Peace from the Newsweek list a bit further down the line…}

      • Reply
        popculturenerd
        July 7, 2009 at 9:30 am

        At least W&P is in line for you. I’ve given up long ago!

        I’m still tickled about your PCN reading list. Hopefully, you won’t find anything on there dreary, only books that give you pleasure.

  • Reply
    Poncho
    July 7, 2009 at 10:14 am

    WOW! Got to read it.

    I’m a huge Holmes fan. As a matter of fact, a friend and me used to play -when we were very young- that we were Holmes and Watson. I was Watson, just because I’m shorter (and a little more obese, LOL), and he’s quite tall, european-looking (swiss parents) and skinny as a stick!

    (As I’ve said, I’m a geek!)

    • Reply
      popculturenerd
      July 7, 2009 at 11:01 am

      Geeks in all shapes and sizes are welcome here! (Have you looked at the title of this blog lately?)

      As a kid, I’d imagine I was Holmes by looking at “clues” like mud on my brother’s shoes or a flat tire on my sister’s bike, trying to deduce where they’d been and what they did (who’s the geek now?). I also played violin like Holmes but luckily never developed a drug habit.

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