- Title: Good Night, Mr. Holmes
- Author: Carole Nelson Douglas
- Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/10/2015
Good Night, Mr. Holmes takes the familiar Sherlock Holmes short story, “A Scandal in Bohemia”, and turns it on it’s head, telling the story from Irene Adler’s point of view. It also expands the story into a full-length novel. The author gives Irene her own Watson, Penelope Huxleigh, whom Irene calls “Nell”. Nell narrates the story, and she is interesting in her own right. The daughter of a parson, when her father dies, she’s left on her own. Nell does OK, getting a job as a governess. However, when her family leaves England for the wider Empire she is left behind. She gets a very low-paying job in a London shop, room and board included, but is soon set-up by one of the other girls, and loses her job – accused of stealing.
Nell is bereft when she nearly literally runs in to Irene, who takes her under her wing. Irene is independent, free-spirited, and a struggling Opera singer and actress. Nell and Irene begin to share lodgings. Irene helps Nell get her revenge on the girl that got her sacked, then urges Nell to find better work. Nell takes a short course and learns how to type, and before long she’s making an acceptable living as a temporary typist.
Irene meanwhile, gives the occasional concert, and occasionally solves, “little problems”. The two are surviving, in the middle of a expensive, Victorian city – but by their own wits.
Irene gets a commission to find the “Zone of Diamonds” a mysteriously missing piece of the French crown jewels. Sherlock Holmes, who only appears on the periphery of the novel, is engaged for the same.
Irene investigates the Norton family, and eventually Nell gets a job as Godfrey Norton’s typist and clerk at the Temple bar (he’s a barrister).
Irene’s star as a Opera singer begins to rise, and she eventually heads to Milan, then Prague, and finally Bohemia (in the modern day Czech Republic), where she is romanced by the crown prince.
Nell meanwhile has her hands full, as Godfrey’s paralegal for all intents and purposes.
The nice thing about this novel, and what I really enjoyed about it, is that despite the description on the back – it is not a romance. This isn’t a story about Irene or even Nell meeting their future husband, Godfrey. Rather it’s the tale of two women surviving in harsh circumstances without compromising their own natures. And then there’s a mystery and missing jewels.
I quite enjoyed the book. The author is American, but the historical research rings true, though the occasional term is used that seems either out of context by time or country. Still, I liked it, and I’m glad it wasn’t a typical romantic suspense novel. I would like to read more in the series.