The Three Locks – a gripping new Sherlock Holmes adventure by Bonnie MacBird – is published by Collins Crime Club, an imprint of HarperCollins, on 18 March 2021. It is the fourth in her acclaimed series.
The year is 1887 and an Indian Summer broils London and Cambridge. A mysterious impregnable box arrives for Watson, locked and with a secret from his past. Then a famous escape artist/conjurer fails to unlock his “cauldron” and burns to a crisp during a performance at Wilton’s Music Hall. And in Cambridge, three suitors including a priest, an aristocrat and a young physicist vie for the love of a spiteful beauty, who vanishes after her lookalike doll is found dismembered in the Jesus Lock on the River Cam. The cases convolve as Holmes and Watson tangle with clergy, police, academics and scheming siblings, risking life and limb to solve the murders and to keep the innocent from the gallows.
MacBird’s stylish updates to Conan Doyle’s canon bring all the wit, camaraderie and deductions one expects from Holmes and Watson, but with the extended arc of a novel allowing not only more character development but also action, which carries them far beyond the locked room mystery and into danger.
Each of MacBird’s four Holmes books explores a theme. Just as Art in the Blood revealed the perils and gifts of the artistic temperament, Unquiet Spirits uncovered the danger of letting ghosts of the past lie unresolved, and The Devil’s Due touched upon the cost of corruption, The Three Locks examines the risk of keeping dark secrets locked away.
Meticulous research and attention to period detail enrich the reading experience. The Three Locks is a must-read for fans of the original Sherlock Holmes adventures and for readers new to the genre.
Bonnie MacBird was born and raised in San Francisco and fell in love with Sherlock Holmes by reading the canon at age ten. She now lives in London and Lost Angeles. Her long Hollywood career includes feature film development at Universal, the original screenplay for the movie TRON, three Emmy Awards for documentary writing and producing, numerous produced plays and musicals, and theatre credits as an actor and director. In addition to her work in entertainment, Bonnie teaches writing at UCLA Extension, as well as being an accomplished watercolourist.
She is active in the Sherlockian community in both the UK and the US, and lectures regularly on Sherlock Holmes, writing, and creativity.
Bonnie’s previous three Sherlock Holmes adventures are: Art in the Blood; Unquiet Spirits and The Devil’s Due. Her books are now available in 17 languages worldwide.
I’m always a little wary of books that take well known and loved characters created by other authors and create new stories. A lot of them are…not good. Thankfully however this was very enjoyable and felt very true to Conan Doyle’s original stories.
I really felt like I’d been sat with my enormous copy of the original Strand stories (a required text for my long ago degree, but at that price now a permanent resident on my bookcase). There was no slip into modern vernacular, no weird things that hadn’t actually been invented yet, Holmes hadn’t acquired any odd affectations beyond his existing ones.
You can really tell that MacBird knows her source material and has spent a lot of time getting inside Conan Doyle’s style and approach. Her Holmes and Watson feel like the original crime solving duo.
The plot was a lot of fun, and typically manic, with the intrepid duo bouncing around London and Cambridge in a succession of trains and hansom cabs, Holmes high as a kite on his various solutions, Watson attempting to rein his friend in and remind him how to behave around other people.
The way the two cases, that of Dellie in Cambridge and the vanished magician in London are casually linked was nicely done and as always Holmes is three steps ahead of any police detective or dodgy criminal.
I also enjoyed that Watson’s own story and the tragedies that marked his early life came to the fore with a mysterious locked box. It was nice to see his gentle humanity in stark contrast to Holmes’ otherworldly obliviousness.
A very pleasing addition to the various unofficial Holmes spinoffs.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.