“The Return of Moriarty: Sherlock Holmes’ Nemesis Lives” (Pegasus Crime, $25) is now back in a special hardcover edition for the first time in almost 40 years and with a new introduction by Otto Penzler.
Author John Gardner (1926-2007) delivers the dramatic first novel in his bestselling saga that confirms Professor James Moriarty as one of the most vividly imagined villains in literature. Moriarty, the famed arch-rival of Sherlock Holmes, has returned. Their dramatic encounter at Reichenbach Falls three years earlier, it seems, was not the fateful confrontation the world had been led to believe — and now, with his nefarious energies undiminished, Moriarty is back in England to resume his control over the criminal netherworld.
So what really did happen in Switzerland in 1891 between the professor and the great detective? Penzler, the proprietor of the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City and founder of Mysterious Press and Otto Penzler Books, was a close friend of Gardener for many years. His profound knowledge of the Sherlock Holmes sagas is evident in his engaging introduction: “The 56 short stories and four novels that comprise the entire Holmes canon (there have been literally thousands of parodies and pastiches written by others) seem so believable because Arthur Conan Doyle did not use hyperbole or exaggeration to describe either Holmes or his adversaries. While Holmes’ ability to bend a poker with his bare hands is impressive, it is not Herculean, and his deductive powers, although jaw-dropping at first glance, are easily explained, as he does himself on numerous occasions to the delight and amazement of his amanuensis and friend, Watson — as well as to readers.”
Gardner, a journalist and critic, wrote a series of novels in the 1970s known as the “Moriarty Journals,” which brought back Professor Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis. In “The Return of Moriarty,” Gardner takes readers of this suspenseful tale through the Victorian underworld that again pits two of literature’s most memorable rivals against each other. The professor’s and the detective’s adventures will continue next year when Pegasus Books publishes the follow-up: “The Revenge of Moriarty.”