***This book was reviewed for the San Francisco Book Review
“You killed him! You killed my brother!”
I loved the opening line of Gleason’s latest Stoker and Holmes novel. Even if this were my first foray into the series, I would be hooked from those first lines alone. Whose brother? Why were they killed?
The Chess Queen Enigma has Mina and Evaline ostensibly babysitting a visiting princess from Betrovia. This becomes complicated when said princess is first apparently attacked, after having wandered away from her two guardians, and then seemed to have been kidnapped. Mina figures out that the princess left on her own, and where she had gone.
Princess Lurelia then asks Evaline and Mina to find the fabled chess queen, said to have been the very first of its kind. The missing chess piece is believed to hold the key to treasure hidden within the skillfully crafted chess table the set belongs to.
Meanwhile, the ladies must also deal with vampires, and the re-emergence of the mysterious mastermind known as the Ankh, who is becoming to Mina as Moriarty is to Sherlock. Added to that, each of them must deal with their own conflicted, personal feelings regarding one another, their connection via Mina’s missing mom, and the exasperating males in their lives.
I must say, I greatly enjoyed this book over the previous one. The ladies are beginning to work better together, though there is still a measure of cattiness. Getting more background on each does help this make more sense. Both have been given ample opportunity to learn distrust of others. We get to learn more of Pix as well. He’s still my favourite character, and I hope he’ll be around for some time to come. I can’t help but picture him as a very young Mark Sheppard.
Dylan’s story resolves itself. Sort of. I’m guessing (hoping) there is more to the long game regarding his story, otherwise it seems quite coincidental to the adventures Mina and Evaline have, though he did have more of an active role in Chess Queen. I’d love a glimpse of him restored to his own future, to see what ripples his actions in the past have had. I get the feeling, though, that not only did he shift times, but planes as well, leaving him a few planes removed from his ‘home’ time.
???? Recommended for those who enjoy alternate history, steampunk, or Sherlock variants