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Moriarty/The Revenge of Moriarty

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Pan, London, 1976
(first published Weidenfeld & Nicholson 1974)
price: 75p; 320 pages
dedication: for Anthony Gould-Davies
click to enlarge
The Revenge of Moriarty
Pan, London, 1977
(first published Weidenfeld & Nicholson 1975)
price: 80p; 304 pages
dedication: for my wife Margaret

The blurbs on the back:

Thursday 5 April 1894...
Arch-enemy of Sherlock Holmes, Professor Moriarty returns from the grave to repossess his criminal empire which extends from burglary to the provision of sexual services of all kinds.
From his Limehouse stronghold he deals savagely and in chilling fashion with would-be rivals, dupes the police, plots the theft of the Crown Jewels and writes
finis to Jack the Ripper.
Finally he plans his most audacious coup - before Edward, Prince of Wales, at Sandringham...
'Finely imagined' -
Sunday Telegraph
'Bowls along with the pace of a runaway hansom to its cracking climax' -
Western Daily Press

The Revenge of Moriarty
'The evil Professor rises again' -
Financial Times
In the autumn of 1896, Moriarty returns from exile to reclaim his criminal empire in gaslit London.
Now his brilliant brain burns with one single ambition ... vengeance.
Vengeance on Schleifstein, Grisombre, Sanzionare and Segorbe, captains of Europe's criminals...
On Inspector Crow of the Yard who has pursued him across two continents...
And on the one man whose genius rivals his own - Moriarty's eternal enemy, Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street.
'Irresistible ... vastly entertaining with a real sense of period.' -
Liverpool Daily Post

It's a great concept, of course. Moriarty is the most fascinating figure in the entire canon, outside Holmes himself, and the idea of a series focussed on Sherlock's evil counterpart is eminently appealing. In the wake of the Flashman books, this could have worked very nicely, particularly in the hands of a decent writer like John Gardner.

I'm afraid, however, that - for me at least - it doesn't really come off. In the original stories, Moriarty is a shadowy figure. In fact we never see him directly, we hear of him only through the words of Holmes as told to Watson. The result is a deeply ambivalent, elusive character. Which is why so much of the pseudo-canon is concerned with exploring his true nature.

But here, where he's placed centre stage throughout, the mystique and the glamour are lost, and what emerges is a story of London gangsters, albeit one set in the late-Victorian era. And unfortunately, as far as I'm concerned, gangsters are about the only thing to rival cowboys in the boredom stakes. Have a look at The Censor instead.

Pipe rating:

from the maker of:

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The Liquidator
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The Censor

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