“Mr Holmes, save my sister from whatever nameless horror has just driven this friend of ours to her death!” It is late on a foggy November afternoon and a desperate young woman arrives at Baker Street, imploring Sherlock Holmes to help her. She is terrified about what may be going on inside a secretive London refuge for Russian exiles from which her sister has sent an enigmatic warning. And so begins a frightening case which deeply strains both Holmes and Watson because of the mystifying nature of the forces against them and the appalling consequences of failure.
The case leads into strange territory. Into the circles of Victorian London’s radicals and idealists, where early feminists and socialists rub shoulders with exiled foreign revolutionaries. To a utopian anarchist commune in Essex wilderness, which imitates Tolstoy’s farm communes in Russia. Into the nightmarish political world from which London’s Russian exiles have fled. The trail leads onwards – to one appalling discovery after another as Holmes gradually unravels a labyrinthine, deeply evil conspiracy. Just when it seems that things could get no worse, Holmes encounters a shocking secret at the heart of governments.
Narrated by Dr Watson, ‘The Case of the Russian Chessboard’ respects Sherlock Holmes traditions and, as reviewers have commented, weaves the story round well-researched historical facts. Mingling mystery with gaslight, this dark, twisting tale offers a gripping and thought-provoking read.