Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance Paperback – Mar 6 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
In Millet's fourth, well-researched Holmes in Minnesota adventure (after 2001's Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery), flamboyant Irish saloonkeeper Shadwell Rafferty scents an impending bloodbath when Michael O'Donnell, a young union man and mill worker, is found hanged, naked, from an oak tree in downtown Minneapolis. Around the victim's neck is a placard: "The Secret Alliance Has Spoken." Everyone assumes it is a warning from the paramilitary anti-union Secret Alliance, but no one seems to understand its significance. Rafferty seeks help from Holmes, who's in New York on a case for John Jacob Astor. The world's greatest private consulting detective doesn't enter the action until the novel's half over, though entries from Dr. Watson's journal at the start of each chapter keep the reader informed of his thoughts and movements. Turn-of-the-century Minneapolis on the eve of a visit from President McKinley comes vividly to life as one of the most corrupt cities in America, rife with evil schemes and dirty deeds. Rafferty is no deductive wizard like Holmes, but a street-smart, methodical man who plods from witness to witness to discover the truth behind O'Donnell's lynching, which, in the end, proves amazingly complex. A columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the author is obviously in love with local history. Both Holmes fans and historical mystery buffs should be pleased. Agent, Bob Barnett.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
In Millett's Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance, Shadwell Rafferty, an Irish saloon keeper and sometime detective, returns for his fourth adventure. The book opens with the gruesome lynching of Michael O'Donnell, a union activist, by a secret anti-union organization in a very corrupt Minneapolis in 1899. As various complications ensue, including the visit of President McKinley to the Twin Cities, Rafferty realizes that he is out of his depth and enlists the aid of Holmes and Watson. The novel contains structural flaws that will mar the experience even for readers who accept the absurd premise of the presidential visit. The narrative flow is periodically broken by entries from Watson's journals, written in an elliptical style that omits certain short words and refers to characters by their initials. On the other hand, Millett provides a map and 20 pages of historical and explanatory notes at the end of his book, which lend an air of verisimilitude. Still, if library purchase of only one of these is possible, the Kendrick is the better bet. Fred Gervat, Concordia Coll., Bronxville, NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
In fact, you'll need to go through more than 1/3 of the book before the Baker Street duo actually arrives in Minnesota, and even then, you'll never be reading the Watsonian-style chronicle you're accustomed to. Instead, Watson's contribution is presented in the form of hastily written journal entries, which are full of abbreviations parenthetically explained by Millett in his role as "editor." The other parts of the story are filled in with standard prose---more or less from Rafferty's point of view---but not written in his voice.
This creates a somewhat disjointed narrative, and worse, an irritating rhythm, the brief, fast-paced journal material always being followed by the longer, plodding prose.
It seems rather obvious that Millett used this book to shift his focus from Holmes/Watson to Rafferty and his partner, G. W. Thomas (Thomas is shown in a way that unmistakably parallels Watson), and I wouldn't be the least surprised if Millett evolves the series into one of Rafferty's own.
I'd be sorry to see a decently written Holmes series end, but I do like Rafferty, and think Millett deserves some praise for his creation and development of the character. I've also grown to admire Millett's ability to weave fictional characters and elements of mystery into his state's history (If you've been reading this series, but skipping his historical notes, you've actually missed a bit).
Ultimately, I rate the book only three stars because it doesn't have enough Sherlock to appeal strongly to a Sherlockian, and because if it is indeed a transitional volume between a Holmes series and a Rafferty series, it feels like an awkward transition.
In the latest installment, Rafferty is hired by an old lady friend and competitor who owns a saloon. One of her bartenders has moved on to union agitating, and gotten himself killed. The original verdict is that he tried to rape a woman, and was lynched by a mob, but that theory soon dissipates, and is replaced by the idea that an anti-union conspiracy might be responsible. The plot takes many twists and turns before the crime is solved.
One problem is that, given the title, you would expect Holmes to be more involved in the plot. Instead Sherlock and Dr. Watson are trapped in New York City, investigating some sort of controversy involving the Astor brothers. Holmes and Watson stew about this for half the book, without the reader knowing what they are upset about (it's never explained) before they terminate their business and make their way to Minnesota. For the first half of the book, Rafferty does all of the investigating.
Once they arrive in Minnesota, Holmes and Watson find themselves involved in various conspiracies and scandals, involving a shady mayor and one of the most famous real life detectives of the 19th century. This part of the book is the most entertaining, to be frank.Read more ›
The police chief says that Michael was killed because he was "taking liberties" with a young girl. Maj denies that her barman was not a pediophile and persuades Shad to investigate though he knows how dangerous the Secret Alliance is with its antiunion busting. With the help from his two visiting friends from London, Holmes and Watson, Shad follows a meandering trail filled with danger.
The fourth book centering on Sherlock Holmes' Twin City cases is an engaging tale that fans of the great detective will enjoy. SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE SECRET ALLIANCE brings Holmes' American host more to the forefront of the investigation than in the previous three novels, which adds an original spry twist to the a tale loaded with copious twists and turns. Even while bringing Shad in more of a lead role, Larry Millet continues his ability to capture the essence of Holmes and Watson while providing a vivid look at America at the turn of the previous century.
Most recent customer reviews
The true secret alliance is between the publisher and the author, as they attempt to con and bamboozle the innocent public into thinking that this is a "Sherlock Holmes"... Read morePublished on Feb. 11 2004 by jrmspnc
I enjoyed "The Red Demon;" I enjoyed "The Ice Palace Murders" much less. I didn't enjoy "The Secret Alliance. Read morePublished on May 13 2003
How Sherlock Holmes' name can be used in the title with good faith is outside my understanding. I've read all of Millett's "Holmes" books, and this story is not only the... Read morePublished on March 4 2003 by JR
Disappointing. Sherlock Holmes basically disappears from the book - except for the stupid diary form that is practically unreadable - and Shadwell Rafferty does not take the stage. Read morePublished on Dec 19 2002 by S. L. Cheek
Larry Millett's fourth book is easily the weakest in the series. Holmes and Watson barely make cameo appearances, it's all the annoyingly stereotyped Shadwell Rafferty. Read morePublished on Dec 4 2002
I really have to say that I was disapointed with this book. The writing became longwinded and boring, and the story just seemed to drag on and on. Read morePublished on April 3 2002
Despite a typo in the first sentence of the book, a definite turnoff, this is an interesting and entertaining tale in the usual Millett Minneapolis setting. Read morePublished on Dec 9 2001 by Jack R. Kincade