Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Sherlock Holmes and the Silver Cord by M.K. Wiseman - Book Blitz

Sherlock Holmes & the Silver Cord

“I speak of magic, Mr. Holmes.”

Mr. Percy Simmons, leader of London’s Theosophical Order of Odic Forces, is fully aware that his is not a case which Mr. Sherlock Holmes would ordinarily take up.

These are not ordinary times, however.

For something, some unquiet demon within Holmes stirs into discomfiting wakefulness under the occultist’s words. The unassuming Mr. Simmons has spoken of good and evil with the sort of certainty of soul that Sherlock yearns for. A certainty which has eluded Holmes for the three years in which the world thought him dead. While, for all intents, constructions, and purposes, he was dead.

But six months ago, Sherlock Holmes returned to Baker Street, declared himself alive to friend and foe alike, took up his old rooms, his profession, and his partnership with Dr. J. Watson—only to find himself haunted still by questions which had followed him out of the dreadful chasm of Reichenbach Falls:

Why? Why had he survived when his enemy had not? To what end? And had there ever, truly, been such a thing as justice? Such a thing as good or evil?

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Sherlock Holmes has now taken up two new cases, the latter somewhat unsettling his emotional landscape. Now, at the mid-point of chapter 3, he ponders his reaction to the new client’s words, a reaction he does not wish to impart to Watson.

[Aside: The concert which they attend in this scene occurred on Oct 15, 1894 (a Monday) and was the second series of Richter concerts for the year.]

Wagner has in his compositions the innate ability to carry the listener through any number of emotional landscapes within scant minutes’ time that rarely, if ever, tips over into melodrama. With my conscience and imagination being somewhat raw from their exertions, I was ready for symphonic solace. There amongst the audience at St. James’s Hall, I found my balm for both body and mind. I could admit to it that Simmons’ words had stirred more than my intellect. His talk of evil had disquieted me. He had spoken of evil with as much conviction and surety as ever I had heard and then charged me with its knowledge.

I had confronted so-called evil in my many hundreds of cases. But could I name it? Dare I define the malevolence which I had hunted so diligently? I could not. Even having risked my life in service to the so-called good.

Practically speaking, what I had said to Watson was true. This case would most likely grant me access into an arena in which few were allowed entrance. I might learn something of use whilst I surveyed this new unmapped section of London, the aetherous realm of magic. Or at least I had before me a set of unknown, and likely well-connected, practitioners who believed in and trod those airy corridors with their arcane practices. It was new society, or a new side of Society.

Or it was base poison, and Mr. Simmons was victim to his own senses and I a fool. In which event my involvement had its ordinary merits and might work in the service of solving Mrs. Jones’ puzzling case of anti-blackmail.

No, Holmes, no.

I could pretend to practicality. I could think and reason and have a mystery concluded at the end of the day. But the attraction of this case . . . Evil. Good. Justice. Crime. Power. These were concepts which I had long taken as fact. Presumed facts which begged questions I had never wrestled with. And yet, the answers? They might well be my soul’s defence to every action I had ever undertaken in the service of my unique profession.

I glanced to Watson, noting his wistful, relaxed attitude as the concert droned on around us.

Steady Watson. Dependable and true and, in his own way, another answer. Possibly the answer. For why else had I returned? Who else in my life had held any sway with me? I speak in terms of people, not precepts here. I had had my holiday. I had enjoyed three years without a single thread binding me to this or that place, any one responsibility save for my own to myself and the finishing of what I had begun with Professor Moriarty. A task which ought to have ended neatly and without any loose ends at the edge of a cliff outside of Meiringen. But to close the entry on Moriarty was to bury my own acknowledgement that I had been cavalier with my own life and with Watson’s.

This, and every other guilt, had arisen in me at Simmons’ call.

What Watson did not understand—what I could never tell him, for it would mean my having to say it aloud, to admit it at all—was that my work served to keep me from that terrible precipice of fear which lived at the heart of cold logic. Fear which Mr. Simmons had sounded alongside every other sin of mine when he stood in the doorway of our sitting room and proclaimed that I knew justice, that I understood evil.

Wrong on both counts, Mr. Simmons.

But if I could learn its contours, if there was a systematic proof, a morality to be gleaned from data and fact? Then this case which he had presented to me had the power to solve my ideological dilemma, that of evil. A question which had haunted me every waking day since Moriarty’s demise at my hands.

Author Bio – M. K. Wiseman has degrees in Interarts & Technology and Library & Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her office, therefore, is a curious mix of storyboards and reference materials. Both help immensely in the writing of historical novels. She currently resides in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

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