As a major Sherlock Holmes fan, this title grabbed my attention immediately. I picked it up, even though a rational part of me warned it was probably a coincidence, and Baker Street Letters had nothing to do with the detective at 221B Baker St at all. To my delight, the summary on the book cover promised a story about a pair of lawyer brothers who happen to lease 221B Baker Street and so receive letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes. I thought this book would be a Sherlockian tale, and I was both excited to read something Sherlockian and wary that Robertson would screw up his treatment of such an icon.
Fair warning: it has absolutely nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes other than the Baker Street address. That being said, it’s a solid enough mystery, with likable enough characters. Twenty years ago, an eight-year-old girl writes to ask Sherlock Holmes for help in finding her missing father. Family black sheep Nigel Heath decides to track the letter writer down. When he is suspected of murder, his rich, successful brother Reggie follows him to LA, and also gets involved in the case. Reggie’s on-again/off-again girlfriend Laura, an actress who is by far the most intelligent in their detective team, also comes to LA to help out. The letter writer’s father had been a geological surveyor investigating possible subway tunnel routes, and there are people who seem desperate to get the documents from the father that the girl had included in her letter to Sherlock Holmes.
It’s not spectacular, and if I decide to read the next book in the series, The Brothers of Baker Street, I’ll borrow it from the library. I don’t think it’s even that I was disappointed that the Sherlock Holmes connection was ultimately nothing more than a gimmick (story would so worked equally well if the eight-year-old girl had written to Nancy Drew or Hercule Poirot or even sent a message in a bottle). I love all sorts of mysteries, ranging from Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie to Diane Mott Davidson (Goldy Schulz’s catering mysteries) and Laura Levine (the hilarious Jaine Austen series). Baker Street Letters is definitely an enjoyable read, but it’s not a series I’ll keep my eye on.
The best part of Baker Street Letters is the relationship between the Heath brothers – Reggie and Nigel clearly have an intense rivalry, but just as clearly feel genuine concern and affection for each other. Laura is an engaging character, and her romance with Reggie (and past potential for romance with Nigel!) is a fun little subplot that really just makes you realize how dense Reggie is when it comes to love. The secondary characters are interesting enough, and in fact, my favourite character is probably a female grad student who helps Reggie out. The mystery is convoluted enough that I didn’t guess the answer till fairly close to the big reveal scene. Decent book, overall.