Despite myself, I enjoyed this Edwardian mystery. Despite myself, because it had many flaws. From the piling of coincidences to the protagonist’s name (Frank Spargo; it is just men, or does this sound more like a 1930s American noir anti-hero than an early 20th century London scribblers?), nothing should work. But, overall, it does.

While lacking the special genius of Doyle’s iconic detective stories, the forward movement was continuous and propulsive. So much so, that I felt tired reading about Spargo’s late nights followed by early mornings (but in true English fashion, he never seemed rushed). Like any good detective story, all the major persons on interest are introduced early, without giving the game away (or, at least not too much; why wasn’t our intrepid investigator more suspicious when two people claiming relative disinterest also said they really wanted to see the body?). Except for a small village, I never got a good feel for the setting (though there was a nice description that made the neighborhood around Middle Temple Bar seem, for just a moment, dangerous).