The second in a highly original and absolutely marvelous series about two brother lawyers who lease offices on London's Baker Street--and begin receiving mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes
When brothers Reggie and Nigel Heath choose 221B Baker Street as the location for their law office, they don't expect that their new office space would come with one huge stipulation, answering the letters sent to Sherlock Holmes, the most famous resident of that address.
Reggie is distressed because the love of his life, actress Laura Rankin (whom Nigel also adores), is gallivanting around with media mogul Lord Buxton. And while Reggie is working on a new case involving one of London's Black Cab drivers who is accused of murdering two American tourists, the letters to Sherlock Holmes are piling up. There s even one from someone who claims to be the descendent of Professor James Moriarty.
With a case that would have puzzled even Sherlock himself and a pair of brother sleuths more different than night and day, The Brothers of Baker Street is sure to please mystery fans whatever their address.
About the Author
MICHAEL ROBERTSON works for a large company with branches in the United States and England. His first novel in this series, The Baker Street Letters, has been optioned by Warner Bros. for television. He lives in San Clemente, California.
MICHAEL ROBERTSON studied literature at Purdue University, attended law school in southern California, and worked in educational publishing and software technology for many years. He spends his spare time surfing, a few hundred yards north of the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant. He is the author of the Baker Street Mystery series, which begins with The Baker Street Letters.
Read an Excerpt
LONDON, AUTUMN 1997
In Mayfair, the owner of an elegant Edwardian white-stone sat down at the garden table with unusually high expectations for breakfast.
It was a bright September morning, quite lovely indeed; the roses in the garden were much more fragrant than in many days or weeks past — more so than anyone could possibly understand — and there was every reason to believe that breakfast would be equally remarkable.
The servant girl would bring tea and scones for a start. The tea would be hot and dark and would swirl together with the milk like vanilla and caramel taffy; the scones would be fresh and warm and appropriately crumbly when broken in two, and the butter would melt into each half like rain into loose garden soil.
The breakfast would be wonderful — especially so because it was no longer necessary to take the medications that accompanied it.
No medications, no nausea. No medications, no mental dullness. No medications, no loss of pleasure in the ordinary, everyday elements of life.
Not taking the bloody little pills was certainly the way to go.
The wonder was why the servant girl still bothered bringing them at all.
Several steps away in the parlor, the servant girl — a young woman, who had emigrated from Russia only a few years earlier and shortened her name to Ilsa (because there was a tennis star of that name and people could pronounce it) — arranged a china setting on a silver serving tray, with all the breakfast components her employer was expecting.
She placed the medications on the tray as well — a yellow pill for the schizophrenia, a round blue one to alleviate the depression caused by the yellow one; and a square white one to deal with the nausea caused by the blue one, but apparently not to great effect. And there was a small pink one, which was related to the effects of the other three in some complicated way that no one had adequately explained.
The pills had been part of the daily regimen ever since Ilsa was first hired. That was almost a year ago now. Ilsa's employer, just a few years older than Ilsa herself, had lost both parents to an automobile accident at that time, and needed some assistance with the daily routine. Ilsa had been brought in to prepare the meals, to put the medicines on the tray, and to do the housekeeping and other chores. She wanted to do all of her tasks well.
Keeping the place tidy was more trouble than it should have been. Like a cat bringing presents from the garden, her employer kept discovering and bringing in small pieces of furniture and such from the parents' estate. Ilsa had counted five lamps, three vases, an ancient portable typewriter, and innumerable scrapbooks and folders and yellowed paper items, some of which her employer had begun to take upstairs alone to study in private.
But as difficult as the housekeeping was, what worried Ilsa most was the medications. A new doctor had come by — a man Ilsa did not particularly like — and said not to worry about them. So Ilsa tried not to worry. But she continued to put the pills on the tray anyway, as she had been originally told to do. It seemed to her that she still should do so. And she was uncertain of all the regulations in her adopted country; she did not want to get in trouble.
Now she brought the breakfast setting out to the garden. And she also brought a copy of the Daily Sun.
Ilsa placed the silver tray on the table. Her employer smiled slightly and nodded. Then Ilsa stood at the table and began to read the headlines aloud from the tabloid.
This had been become a ritual in recent weeks, and she took some pride in getting good at it.
"'Prime Minister Calls for Moratorium on Queue Cutting,'" read Ilsa.
"No," said her employer.
"'Prince Harry Fathers Love Child with Underage Martian Girl.'"
"'Liverpool Louts Stab Man in Front of Pregnant Wife.'"
"No. Page two?"
"And on page three?"
"A woman in her underwear — and nothing on top. Shall I read the caption?" Ilsa giggled just slightly, because she was beginning to understand the British fondness for bad puns, and she was looking forward to demonstrating that knowledge.
"No, Ilsa. I don't need to know about the page-three girl. Go to page four."
"Two headlines on page four," said Ilsa. "The first is: 'Taxi Drivers a Terror to Tourists?'"
It was an article about a spate of robberies and nonlethal assaults against patrons of Black Cabs. Ilsa read the headline with the proper inflexion, making it sound as alarming as the headline writer clearly intended it to be.
"Hmm." Ilsa's employer seemed disappointed and began to butter a scone.
"And the second is a lawyer on Baker Street who denies that he's Sherlock Holmes," continued Ilsa. "There's a photo. I think one might call him good-looking, in a stuffy sort of way."
Her employer abruptly stopped buttering. There was silence for a moment. Then —
"Let me see it."
It was just three short paragraphs, not even breaking news; just a follow-up piece, about one Reggie Health — a thirty-five-year-old London barrister — and the unusual circumstances of a trip he had taken to Los Angeles a short time earlier.
Ilsa watched as her employer stared at the passage for a very long time, eyes searching intently, as though there were something more on the page than just the words.
"Is something wrong?" said Ilsa.
"It's like trying to find a gray cat in the fog," said Ilsa's employer finally, getting up from the table, with the Daily News in hand, and without finishing breakfast. "But I think I am beginning to remember."
Ilsa did not ask what was being remembered. She took the tray away, saw that the medications were again untouched, and wished it were not so.
THREE DAYS LATER
"Nothing is so faithful as a male goose," Laura Rankin had once said. "If he loses his mate, if she dies or becomes directionally challenged flying home from Ibiza after a holiday, the male doesn't take a new one — he remains solitary for the balance of his life, spending what's left of his sad existence at ale and darts and whatever else ganders do with their spare time."
It had not been so long ago that she said it. It had been a warning; Reggie Heath just hadn't known it at the time.
He was remembering it now, as he turned his Jaguar XJS south from Regent's Park onto Baker Street in a heavy rain. It was not a gentle London drizzle, but an angry drencher, and it suited his frame of mind perfectly.
As a result of his recent and unintentional adventure in Los Angeles, Reggie had lost most of his personal fortune, all of his law chambers' clients, and (at least he liked to tell himself the Los Angeles events were the reason) the affections of the one woman he knew he loved.
He wanted all of it back again. Especially that last thing. When it came right down to it, he was thinking of everything else as just a means to that end.
But driving across the bridge this morning, he had heard a rumor. His new secretary, apparently unafraid to be the bearer of bad tidings, called him on his mobile to warn him, and the call had come as a shock — in part because he wasn't aware she knew that much about his personal life.
But these days, apparently, the whole world did.
He didn't want to look, and see what everyone else had already seen. But he knew he must.
He pulled into the car park in the two hundred block of Baker Street. He was at Dorset House — a building that occupied that entire block, and that was home not only to the headquarters of the Dorset National Building Society, but also to Reggie Heath's Baker Street Chambers.
Reggie parked the Jag, and with his umbrella beginning to break at the seams against the windblown rain, he crossed the street to Audrey's Coffee and Newsagent.
"The Financial Times?" said the attendant. He offered Reggie's usual purchase. The Financial Times had headlines about the PM at an economic conference in Brussels, and the inflation rate, and a proposal to bring the technological advances of satellite navigation systems to the taxis of London. None of that was on Reggie's mind.
"No," said Reggie. "The Daily Sun."
"Second time in a week, Heath. Developing an interest in trash?"
"No. Trash has developed an interest in me."
Reggie entered Dorset House and crossed through the lobby in quick strides, trying not to broadcast that he was carrying the lowest form of journalism folded under his arm, but trying not to be seen as hiding it either.
The lift was empty. That was lucky. Reggie got in and pressed the button for his floor.
He paid little attention to the front-page headline — "American Couple Killed: Cabbie Caught," something about unfortunate tourists in the West End two nights earlier — and he jerked the paper open to the inside pages. He saw the teaser line his secretary had warned him of.
"Fun with Freckles in Phuket?" was the title.
"Bloody hell," said Reggie, aloud, so transfixed that he didn't even realize that the lift hadn't moved and the doors had opened again.
A tall, attractive brunette in her thirties, a loan officer for Dorset probably, got in and stood next to Reggie.
"Stuck on page three, are we?"
Reggie roused himself. Just opposite the page-two blurb he was reading was the bare-tits photo that always occupied all of page three.
"Sorry," he said. He closed the paper. Trying to explain would have been worse. Much worse.
"Oh, don't mind me," she said, as the lift reached Reggie's floor. "Hope she's pert."
Normally Reggie would have come up with a response to that, but today there was no time. He exited the lift.
"Touchy," she said, still within earshot as Reggie walked away down the corridor.
He was headed for his secretary's desk. Also his chambers' clerk's desk: it was the same desk; he had hired just one person, a fiftyish woman named Lois, to fulfill both roles. That was mainly a financial decision, but also, combining both roles in one made it less likely that the secretary would want to bash in the clerk's head. Once had been enough for that. He wanted no more murders in chambers.
Lois rolled — almost literally — out of her desk station as she saw him approach. She had the general shape of a bowling ball, and the enthusiasm of one crashing at high speed into pins. With any luck, Reggie hoped, solicitors would bring new briefs to the chambers just for the entertainment of watching her react to them.
But at the moment, he didn't want to talk. And the papers she held in her hand didn't look like something he wanted to see.
"A new brief?" he said, doubtfully, without breaking stride.
"No," she chirped. "Letters to —"
"Put them where I said earlier," said Reggie.
Reggie entered the sanctuary of his chambers office. He closed the door behind him and spread the Daily Sun out on his desk. He followed the page-two headline teaser deeper, past a large Tesco advert and a smaller, cleverly self-deprecating one for Marmite, until he got to the back pages. And there it was:
"'On with it or off with it?'" read the caption. And there was Laura Rankin, caught on a beach in Phuket with some man's hands — "an unnamed but well-known media mogul" said the text — either fastening or unfastening her bikini top, and doing so with more points of contact than should have been mechanically necessary.
The gall was astonishing. Lord Buxton had actually published a pic in Lord Buxton's own paper of Lord Buxton's hand trying to fondle Laura's lightly freckled left —
Bloody hell. This would not do.
Reggie read to the end of the short piece, and saw that the unnamed but well-known media mogul was said to be flying in his well-known private jet right back to his well-known media headquarters in London later on that same day the photo was taken — his apparent mission of adjusting Laura's bikini top having been accomplished. The Daily Sun wondered in print, "Will the lady soon follow?"
The lady will return to London, thought Reggie, but not following after the bloody well-known media mogul.
Reggie grabbed his raincoat and headed for the door. If the Daily Sun had the itinerary right, Buxton should be back at work in the Docklands at that very moment. Reggie could be there in twenty minutes and help jolt him out of his jet lag.
Then the phone rang, from the secretary's internal line, and Reggie felt obliged to pick up.
"What the hell is it?" he said, into the phone.
There was an anxious pause at the other end, as the new secretary regrouped.
"Sorry," said Reggie. "What is it, Lois?"
"A Mr. Rafferty wants to see you," said Lois. "From Dorset House Leasing Division."
This could not be good.
"I'm very sorry," continued Lois. "He called earlier, but you seemed so preoccupied when you came in —"
"Quite all right," said Reggie. "My mistake."
And now he had to choose.
Deal with the emissary from the leasing committee ...
Or go to the Docklands to confront Buxton.
Discuss annoying details with a man in wire-rim glasses ...
Or thrash the man who was stealing Laura, and with justification that every court in the land would understand.
Reggie exited his office and went to the lift. Rafferty and the lease could wait. Lord Buxton's unsolicited and unnecessarily public contact with Laura's breasts could not.
The lift arrived from the ground floor, and the door opened.
"Heath! There you are!"
It was Alan Rafferty — a smallish man with a tendency toward very expensive gray suits and what Reggie suspected was a bit of a Napoleonic complex, deriving in part, no doubt, from his position of power on the leasing board. He had some documents in one hand and a prepackaged sandwich in the other.
"I thought you might have forgotten," said Rafferty, cheerily. "You all right, Heath? You look a little pink."
"Perhaps this can wait until the afternoon?" said Reggie.
"Oh, no," said Rafferty. He said it calmly, with a confident smile. "I have your lease right here. Started to look at it, then thought I should pop down for a bite first. Egg and cucumber salad. Quite good, I think they've changed the recipe. But now that I've got the lease out, you may as well ride back up with me, don't you think?"
That was ominous. Rafferty did indeed have the lease right there in his hand, and his thumb was pressing so hard against one particular section that it was probably going to leave a permanent mark.
"I trust it won't take long," said Reggie, remaining in the lift. They rode up to the top floor.
There really wasn't much to the top level. It was mostly just shining hardwood floor and windows. But Dorset House wasn't the first financial institution to occupy the premises; perhaps they just hadn't gotten around to making full use of it yet.
Rafferty's office was at the far end, tucked away, with just a small desk and two chairs.
"Interesting story in there," said Rafferty as Reggie sat down. Rafferty seemed to be indicating the copy of the Daily Sun that Reggie still had under his arm.
"Hardly relevant to my lease, is it?" said Reggie. He assumed Rafferty was referring to the thing about Laura in Phuket, and he made no effort to disguise his annoyance. He folded the paper again to half its current size and stuffed it into his coat pocket.
"Not today's paper," replied Rafferty. "Three days ago. But perhaps you hadn't seen it? Have a look."
Rafferty took a three-day-old copy of the Daily Sun out of his desk drawer, opened to the intended section, and handed it to Reggie.
The headline was "Balmy Barrister of Baker Street."
He had seen it before. The story was a sensationalized account, mostly inaccurate but not quite libelous, of Reggie's unfortunate trip to Los Angeles three weeks earlier, and the letters to Sherlock Holmes — which continued to arrive at Reggie's Baker Street Chambers — that had initiated it.
"This is old news," said Reggie. "I'm not happy about it; but there you are." The Daily Sun had in fact run more than one of these stories. He had considered calling the reporter to complain, but his better sense told him that complaining to a tabloid writer would be like teasing a chimpanzee.
"You'll have to forgive me for not being caught up on my reading," said Rafferty. "I only just saw the story yesterday."
Rafferty looked expectantly across at Reggie.
Reggie looked expectantly back.
"Well, of course," said Rafferty, "it does have some small relevance to your lease, wouldn't you agree?"
Excerpted from "The Brothers of Baker Street"
Copyright © 2011 Michael Robertson.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Book two in this fairly new series by Michael Robertson is an improvement over book one, [The Baker Street Letters], which wasn't a bad book to begin with.I found myself getting into the plot of this book more, including trying to figure out the references to things that are not familiar to Americans or others who have not lived in England.Now I know what 'snooker' is. :)Another plus to this book was there was more character development, and I found myself beginning to like Reggie and Laura more. A pleasant read, overall.
Reggie and Nigel Heath hold the lease at London¿s 221B Baker Street ¿ but didn¿t know when they signed it that the lease included one unusual requirement: that they answer, with a form letter, any correspondence that comes to them for Sherlock Holmes. And the letters are stacking up. And, in some cases, they seem unable to respond with a simple form letter. Reggie and Nigel are lawyers, although Nigel has lost his license to practice (and has fled to America) and clients aren¿t exactly beating down the doors to see Reggie. But finally, Reggie gets a brief to defend a Black Cab driver accused of murder. This is considered a particularly heinous crime because the Black Cab drivers are an elite lot ¿ required to pass rigorous examinations to get behind the wheel and considered the safest of drivers. It doesn¿t look good to have one accused of the murder of two passengers, Americans at that.As in their first adventure, The Baker Street Letters, things soon spiral out of control ¿ and what seemed on the surface to be simple murder turns out to be a much bigger kettle of fish. And poor Reggie is having troubles on the romantic front ¿ his lady love, an actress, is apparently engaged to a Murdoch-esque media baron. I love the premise of this series, and must say I enjoyed this entry better than the first. It¿s lighthearted, funny and has a complex plot that I think readers will enjoy. It¿s an extremely fast read, a few hours pleasure at best. I hope it¿s made into a movie ¿ it will be intriguing to see who is cast for the brothers and for the lovely Laura Rankin.
A little slow to get started but very suspenseful ending. Because the brothers lease their office space at 221b Baker Street they received mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes. Reggie is approached by Darla to represent a black cab driver of murdering two American tourists. He agrees and the driver is acquitted but then Reggie finds him dead and has been set up for the murder. Letters start arriving addressed to Sherlock from Moriarty with clues to the crime.
This book, the second novel in the series tickles my fancy. Two bothers rent an office at the former address of Sherlock Holmes. As a result they suffer various consequences. So with this amusing novel,you get on part Sherlock Holmes, two parts modern day Brothers. The plot is complex. The story moves along quickly and the brothers are two distinct characters, even though both are attorneys. And,the villain a Moriarity descendant is super intelligent, crafty, slippery, and a bit crazy. All of this adds up to a novel both funny and clever. This amusing book prompts a close reading of the first novel in the series. That I intend to do.You should do the same for a bit of fun and a good read.
The excitement returns to London in the second Heath brothers story. Reggie defends a Black Cab driver who is accused of killing American tourists. The Black Cab company does not want anything of the sort besmirching its' stellar image, particularly among tourists. Nigel returns to Reggie's aid this time, as a foe fancying themselves as a descendant of Moriarity is quite a match for the brothers.
I have just finished reading the first two books in this new mystery series, The Baker Street Letters and The Brothers of Baker Street. I¿m a fast reader and so I read the first one two days ago and the second one yesterday.My first reaction was that I quite enjoyed them. It¿s a creative idea, light and easy to read. The series involves two brothers, both lawyers, who have taken over the premises at 221B Baker Street. The lease demands that they answer all letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes that arrive at Baker St. In both books I found the plot, which obviously comes from one of the letters addressed to Holmes, satisfactorily complex.So, why does it sound like there is a ¿but¿? Because there is one, and it¿s big enough to bother me.In the second book, The Brothers of Baker Street, on page 129, the younger brother, Nigel, is returning to his office at Baker Street. He thinks, ¿Perhaps the difference was that the last time he was in this lobby, he had been rushing frantically for Heathrow and the next plane to Los Angeles, with the knowledge that there was a dead body in his office on the next level up.¿ And on page 132, ¿He had not been in this office since discovering the body of the previous clerk, Robert Ocher, just a month earlier.¿But in the first book, The Baker Street Letters, on page 144, Nigel is unaware of the body. In fact, he had passed the clerk in the corridor as he was leaving (or at least we have his word that this was the case) and his word is upheld at the end, on page 271, by the policeman in charge who describes how the man was killed by the murderer, after Nigel had left.If you look at each book as a ¿stand alone¿ mystery, the mistake isn¿t enough to spoil the book. But if you are reading the book as part of a series, becoming invested in the characters (which is what truly carries a series forward), then this is a BIG mistake.When I came to that part it was like having a car traveling at 60 mph suddenly thrown into first gear. I came to a crashing halt and said out-loud, ¿WHAT!¿. It is understandable that an editor could have missed that, especially if they had not read the first book. But the author should remember what he wrote before, I think. (Especially since this is only the 2nd book. If he was trying to remember something that happened 15 or 20 books back I might be more willing to overlook it. Who knows, I might not even notice.) Perhaps he has an explanation lined up in his third book, but it would have to be pretty good to sound true; maybe it would be best to just ignore it.Does this mean you shouldn¿t read the series? Definitely not. It¿s a fun series, with a neat twist to all the Sherlock Holmes stories being currently done. I will read the next one, I am sure.
Modern day 221b Bakers Street and brothers who are lawyers, sleuths and possibly Holmes and Watson, if the descendent of Moriarty is to be believed. The story is full intrigue, plotting, scheming and a bit of romance. In the original Sherlock Holmes stories Moriarty dies at the falls but in this story does his descendent die on the bridge or not?
The second entry in this delightful series is even better than the first. The plot barrels along at a runaway- carriage pace, the Brothers Heath hold on for dear life, and an old friend makes an audacious debut. Put on the tea-water and enjoy.
Reggie reluctantly takes on a criminal case because he truly believes his client is innocent. However, his office is still getting letters to Sherlock Holmes, and the ones that start coming from Moriarty may mean trouble for this case. This was another very fun read, but it did stumble in pacing a little in the middle.
The book The Brothers of Baker Street is a very interesting publication that keeps you wanting to read more. The main Character of the book, Reggie Health, is a barrister. His office is in the building in which the fictional character Sherlock Holmes was said to use. One thing is for sure, there are a lot of letters. In order to keep renting his office, the condition is that every letter must be answered. But that, however, is just a minor detail to this rollercoaster ride of a story. As you take this Journey with Reggie health you see good times and bad times. Defending a case of murder, Reggie finds himself trying to solve his own thoughts and find his way out of certain situations while working to get charges dropped, while his morals and doubts stand in the way. During the read, you feel as if you have become part of the story. You are driving, thinking and solving along with Reggie as the plot of the story unfolds. Around every corner there is a new surprise or detail. But, at the same time, nothing is really out in the open. Since you only know as much as the main character, the story has you trying to solve the mystery yourself. Overall, you will want to keep reading until the conclusion. In my opinion, The Brothers of Baker Street is a good book for anyone who likes mystery. It takes a couple of chapters before it gets interesting, but when it does become interesting you realize it was well worth the wait! Also, I have never read the first part of the series, I did not know there was a first part until I finished the book. I recommend you read The Baker Street Letters before The Brothers of Baker Street because you will have better knowledge of what exactly is going on in the beginning of the story. I personally don’t read many mysteries, but I really enjoyed this book. I think you will too! BL
In 1997 Reggie Heath has leased 221B Baker Street, but the "Balmy Barrister" as the tabloids call him knows the stipulation in the rental agreement includes answering letters to Holmes. His last activity in that endeavor due to his younger brother Nigel lead to Reggie losing his money, his girl (actress Laura Rankin who is hanging with Lord Buxton) and his self respect (see The Baker Street Letters). However, as Rafferty of the Committee reminds him he must answer the letters or be evicted. He calls Nigel in Los Angeles to tell him to respond to the letters which include one from an alleged Moriarty descendent he sends to his sibling. Meanwhile solicitor Darla Rennie hires Reggie to represent Neil Walters, a London Black Cab driver, accused of murdering two Americans. Reggie works diligently on his client's defense, but that places him in peril. He needs Nigel to come to the rescue, but his brother is across the pond and continent while all roads lead to and from Moriarty. This is a diabolically brilliant thriller that Holmes and Watson would struggle to solve let alone the Heath brothers. Fast-paced and loaded with action, the Baker Street Irregulars and anyone who enjoys a terrific nefarious scheme will relish the escapades of The Brothers of Baker Street as once again Nigel seems headed to another spread in tabloid hell if he should live so long to read it. Harriet Klausner
This second mystery in a series about Reggie and Nigel Heath, is a serious mystery spoof on the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. In 1997 London, the Heath brothers have leased 221 Baker Street for their law offices. As part of their lease, they must send a form letter to everyone who sends them a letter addressed to the legendary Sherlock Holmes. Right now, that's about all that is happening at their offices. Then the lovely barrister, Darla Rennie asks Reggie to defend a London Black Cabbie against a murder charge. In doing so, Reggie gets himself deep into a deadly situation concerning all of the Black Cabbies. This mystery has lots of charm and humor mixed in with serious threats, chases, and an unusual psychological workshop. A letter signed by a "Dr Moriarty" comes to Baker Street sending Reggie onto a clue to save his client, but it also seems to threaten his own life. The London Black Cabbies play an important roll in solving the crime also. Clever take on the Sherlock Holmes theme! Looking forward to reading more in this series!