The Baker Street Letters Review
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When London attorney Reggie Heath signed the lease for his new offices at 221b Baker Street, he was so excited about cheap rent that he didn’t read the entire lease. If he had, he would have found a strange clause—one involving the regular stream of letters that arrive at the office, addressed to Sherlock Holmes.

Fortunately for Reggie, his misfit younger brother, Nigel, has been quietly handling the letters—but then one of them catches his eye. Twenty years ago, an eight-year-old girl from California wrote to ask Holmes for help finding her father. Included in her letter were a couple of documents that she thought played a role in his disappearance. Now, two decades later, she—or someone posing as her—wants the documents back.

One morning, Reggie arrives at his office to find that Nigel’s office has been ransacked and their cranky office manager has been beaten to death. The police want to question Nigel as a murder suspect, but only Reggie knows where he is—so he gets on a plane to California to find his brother and clear his name.

The Baker Street Letters is an L. A. mystery with an undeniably British feel. It’s an unexpected combination—two hapless British lawyers who are completely out of their element, racing through dark alleys, abandoned buildings, and construction sites in the least glamorous parts of Los Angeles.

The highlight of the novel is its engaging main characters. First-time novelist Michael Robertson sketches his characters so deftly that you’ll be able to picture them—and hear their voices as they speak. Old brother Reggie is a pompous, successful lawyer who’s struggling with his fading relationship with popular stage actress Laura. And Nigel is the sweet and well-meaning younger brother, whose honesty and concern for others tend to get him into big trouble.

Although dead bodies keep popping up at the most inconvenient of times, Robertson tells the story with a light touch, giving the mystery an easy-going, entertaining tone. There’s nothing really heavy or gruesome or complicated about it, which makes it good for some light, poolside reading. At the same time, though, that also means that it isn’t a particularly gripping (or surprising) read—so don’t expect a complex mystery with edge-of-your-seat action; it’s more leisurely and relaxing than suspenseful and spine-tingling.

My greatest complaint with The Baker Street Letters, however, is that the Sherlock Holmes connection is only trivial. It’s an interesting concept, but it’s only the foundation for the mystery—and I was disappointed to find that it doesn’t really play much into the story.

Unlike the original Baker Street sleuth, The Baker Street Letters isn’t required reading—but, with its clueless but charming amateur sleuths and its creative, carefree mystery it’s still a light and enjoyable summer read.

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