Review of The Case of the Cosmological Killer: Endings and Beginnings by Stephanie Osborn (Twilight Times Books, released November 2012)
Endings and Beginnings is the fourth book in a series that brings Sherlock Holmes into the modern day by way of a hard-science fiction time machine incident.
Dr. Skye Chadwick develops a device which allows the user to see and even visit alternate realities. Some of those alternate realities are inhabited by individuals who only exist in the pages of fiction in our world, and one of those individuals is none other than Sherlock Holmes! When the device is tuned in to the famous (and fictional!) detective’s reality, Skye sees him as he is about to plunge off Reichenbach Falls, runs through the portal to save him and in so doing pulls Holmes into our world, specifically twenty-first-century Colorado.
Because he is known to have died in his own reality Holmes can never return there, and Skye becomes his native guide in this world, helping him to adapt to his strange new surroundings, and together they spend the next three books having adventures ranging from Colorado to the United Kingdom.
Endings and Beginnings covers the conclusion of Skye and Holmes helping an alternate-reality version of themselves save all realities by repairing their tesseract core (the tesseract in our reality was deactivated after the Holmes rescue incident), as well as solving a murder case involving possession of a family farm and an old government facility on the property.
Skye and Holmes were married in the previous book, and this adds an interesting twist to the violent encounters they both tend to get into when investigating, and Skye has the added burden of doing calculations to save all the realities while handling the more mundane demands of an ongoing investigation. Because they are working for the British government they have help with necessities like housing, transport, and food, and cast members from previous books have traveled with them, so they have a cadre of familiar faces to call upon.
A face both new and familiar appears in the form of an elderly Dr. John Watson. He is quite spry for his age and bravely steps in to help when one of the other characters is attacked. Holmes is delighted to discover that the old physician is much like the Watson he knew in his original reality.
Endings and Beginnings is a convoluted mystery, so guessing the twists and turns of the plot will be nigh-impossible; readers will discover what is going on at the same time that Skye and Holmes discover it. Even so, Your Humble Reviewers detected no logical deduction errors. The story also contains a fair amount of physics jargon regarding the tesseract-repair problem, but it is clearly presented and tripped no alarms with the engineer half of the Exploding Spaceship duo.
Skye’s and Holmes’ relationship continues to develop, but they still experience the occasional disconnect due to cultural differences because of the timeshift for Holmes or the cultural shift to Britain for Skye, all of which is quite believable because relatively little actual time has passed over the course of the narrative.
The discussions between the different versions of Skye and Holmes are quite amusing and reveal things that talking with someone other than yourself would not.
Holmes, as usual, is the Smartest Man In The Room (unless Moriarty is there), but now he has the Smartest Woman In The Room working with him, so he has someone who can keep up with him and bring her own unique expertise to bear. This makes for a different dynamic than with Dr. Watson of old, but it works because Skye and Holmes are spouses as well as business partners.
If you like a good detective story, don’t mind your hard SF to have a bit of parallel universes or like a good alternate reality tale then this series is a good choice.
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