Unquiet Spirits: Whisky, Ghosts, Adventure (Sherlock Holmes)
by Bonnie MacBird
Review by Gayle Surrette
Collins Crime Club Hardcover / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9780008201081
Date: 10 October 2017 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Unquiet Spirits by Bonnie McBird is everything you could want in a Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson adventure. The characters are spot on to those written so clearly by Doyle, though McBird has provided more background development which explains some of their eccentricities. The plot is multilayered with a number of related but distracting connections that may or may not be related to the case.
Isla McLaren comes to Holmes for help in finding out what has happened to a servant, Fiona Paisley, who has disappeared. This is her second disappearance. The first time she disappeared, she was returned safe but with all her hair shorn off. This time, Mrs. McLaren has been told Fiona eloped but she doesn't believe it. Holmes doesn't find the case worth his attention and sends her away.
Mycroft Holmes wants Holmes and Watson to check on a problem in France. The vineyards are infected, the wine crop is imperiled, the French government believes that it's a plot by the Scots to shore up their whiskey business and, coincidentally, the McLarens are at the top of the suspect list. They are sent to France to interview the scientist investigating the blight and the McLarens, who are there on vacation.
Taking on the case of the missing servant may serve them to learn more about the McLarens and their whiskey business. Arriving in Scotland, Holmes and Watson learn that there are many people wary of the McLarens and their land. There's talk of dangerous people, criminals, and ghosts and that they should be on their guard when they arrive.
Readers will learn a lot about how whiskey is made and the various steps, chemistry, tricks, and shortcuts. But they'll also have an engrossing story filled with red herrings, intrigue, deceit, secrets, lies, jealousy, revenge, and danger. Once begun, you'll find it difficult to put down and it is unlikely that you’ll solve the case before the final pages. I'll look forward to McBird's next book in this series.