Tor UK, out 19 May
An unusual corpse at 221B Baker Street… and the solution is far from elementary…
If you’ve not caught up yet with Paul Cornell’s Shadow Police series, then this third novel should pull you in – although I would still advise reading the first two books before you do, because even though Cornell reprises the information you need, finding it out alongside Quill and his team is far more fun. While there’s still a police procedural element to the story, the members of the team – and those with whom they come in contact – are the focus of interest, and there are some major developments for all involved, particularly in the light of the information that Quill learned at the end of the second book. It’s fair to say that none of them end the book the same people as they started!
There’s some mild joking at the expense of the various incarnations of Sherlock Holmes that are currently around, although Cornell doesn’t bite the hand that feeds him too sharply (he recently wrote a well-regarded episode of Elementary). The Conan Doyle canon is important to the story but Cornell uses it cannily, ensuring that the reader never gets too far ahead of the team.
There’s a feel of the end of one phase and the start of another as the book draws to a close, and Cornell teases some intriguing possibilities for the future as he widens the scope of the series (and that takes some widening, bearing in mind where Quill ended up in book 2!).
Verdict: Another strong blend of fantasy and police work. 8/10