The Professor Moriarty Novels
by Michael Kurland
Reviewed by Ardy, The Baker Street Babes
The Professor Moriarty novels are a five-part series by Michael Kurland. The first in the series, The Infernal Device, was published in 1978, so it will no doubt already be familiar to some Sherlockians (or indeed Moriartians). This review will concern itself with the two books that Titan sent us: The Infernal Device and Who Thinks Evil (the latest in the series, published earlier this year).
The enticing cover design led me to expect Victorian tales of science and adventure, and I wasn’t disappointed. I do have to say that the books are probably best read in order. I read Who Thinks Evil first and it confused me a lot as it makes very little reference to previous books and very clearly assumes that the reader is already familiar with the characters. It all made a lot more sense after reading The Infernal Device, which is the first in the series.
Moriarty is clearly the puppetmaster here, but he’s not the the main protagonist. This role falls to Benjamin Barnett, an American journalist who becomes Moriarty’s “employee” after Moriarty frees him from wrongful imprisonment in Constantinople. He is inducted to London’s underworld by the colourful “Mummer” Tolliver, Moriarty’s man-of-all-work.
The books are good reads with a lot of action and compelling plots—especially the first one felt very much like a James Bond type story, except it’s set in the 19th century. I am somewhat of a fan of subversion, so the idea of Sherlock Holmes as the literal meddling busybody appeals to me, as does the surprising concept of Moriarty doing objectively “good” things (such as trying to prevent a rogue Russian spy from attacking British royalty) while still being completely amoral. It wasn’t quite as tongue-in-cheek as I felt it could have been, but definitely a very good shot.
The Infernal Device and the other Professor Moriarty novels are available at all good bookshops including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, WHSmith and Waterstones UK. In ebook format they are available for Kindle.
A copy of the above-reviewed work was provided for consideration by the publisher. All opinions expressed are the reviewer’s own.