I always have a stack of library books checked out to read along with a bookcase full of books I own that I haven’t read yet. But occasionally I’ll feel a longing to pick up a book that I’ve already read and enjoy it again, especially when I have a big stack of other books to read. Since I’m a Sherlock Holmes fan, a mystery fanatic, and love reading about historical and literary characters, Good Night, Mr. Holmes by Carole Nelson Douglas is one that I find myself reading over and over again.
Irene Adler was introduced to the world through the Holmes story A Scandal in Bohemia, as the only woman to ever outwit Sherlock Holmes, but Douglas gives ‘that woman’ a chance to tell the story from her point of view, including a more fully fleshed out back story. In the initial book, the reader is introduced to Penelope Huxleigh, an impoverished parson’s daughter and former governess, who is rescued from a pint-sized pickpocket by Irene. Nell, being prim and utterly English, finds herself constantly amazed by the American Irene, who makes her way through life living by her own rules, yet the two become good friends. Almost instantly the two women find themselves enmeshed in a poignant mystery that introduces them to the name of Sherlock Holmes.
Through Ms. Huxleigh’s journal entries documenting their adventures together, we see Irene’s struggle to advance in the operatic world though her own merits while still finding time to investigate mystery after mystery, including a search for missing diamonds belong to Marie Antoinette. Nell Huxleigh believes that when Irene is called to Bohemia to sing in their opera house that their adventures are over, but she is soon called to help Irene solve a prickly problem in the royal family. Irene and Nell not only find themselves fleeing the king but also matching wits against Sherlock Holmes.
While Doyle only gave us one story with Irene Adler, Douglas has penned a whole series featuring her. Carole Nelson Douglas has created novels that are laced with historical figures such as Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, Sarah Bernhardt, Prince Albert of Monaco, and Jack the Ripper. Irene’s ready wit and intelligence is paired perfectly with Nell’s dependable pen and utter Britishness. Sherlock plays an interesting secondary role in all the books, feeding the addiction of Holmes fanatics.
These books are such a welcome treat that I not only have to pick them up every few years to reread, but they also have a permanent place on my personal bookcases. Fans of Sherlock Holmes, historical mysteries and anyone who enjoys a rip-roaring good read will want to pick up this book and immerse themselves in 1880s London, Paris, and Bohemia.