In 1893, Sherlock Holmes and Henry James come to America together to investigate the suicide of Clover Adams, wife of the esteemed historian Henry Adams - a member of the family that has given the United States two Presidents.
Quickly, the investigators deduce that there's more to Clover's death than meets the eye - with issues of national importance at stake. Holmes is currently on his Great Hiatus - his three-year absence after Reichenbach Falls during which time the people of London believe him to be deceased.
The disturbed Holmes has faked his own death and now, as he meets James, is questioning what is real and what is not. Holmes' theories shake James to the core. What can this master storyteller do to fight against the sinister power - possibly Moriarty - that may or may not be controlling them from the shadows? And what was Holmes' role in Moriarty's rise? Conspiracy, action and mystery meet in this superb literary hall of mirrors from the author of Drood.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 624 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 05/03/2015
- Category: Thriller / suspense
- ISBN: 9780751560954
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Review by adpaton
Paris, 1893, and two men bent on suicide meet on the banks of the Seine: they are writer Henry James, who is despondent over his falling sales, and consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, who has noted continuity lapses in his life and concluded he is nothing more than a literary construct. The two join forces and, with James playing a reluctant Watson, sail to America where Holmes plans not only to foil a gang of anarchists hell-bent on assassinating the US president when he opens the Chicago Exposition, but also to solve the puzzle of who murdered Clover Adams, doyenne of Washington society and leader of a very small and very exclusive club called The Five of Hearts. In a Who’s Who of Gilded Age America, real figures like Mark Twain, Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Adams and Henry Cabot Lodge rub shoulders with characters from the Holmes canon like Professor Moriarty and Irene Adler. Overlong perhaps but still a fine literary pastiche, the Fifth Heart is a must-read for lovers of metafiction.Having said this I must admit I was disappointed in the book which verged on the boring at times: reviewers have praised Simmons' wit but I failed to find the humour - a bit on the literary and abstruse side for me, although I did enjoy the passing reference to Hercule Poirot. Too many fine American writers seem to suffer from the compulsion to set their works in America, peopled by Americans: noted Anglophile Henry James and Sherlock Holmes, the epitome of late Victorian London with its fogs and Hansom cabs, are not seen to their best advantage in the New World.