A young woman of English and Ceylonese parentage arrives at the house of Sherlock Holmes on Baker Street in London. She is carrying several golden figures of Buddha. And she has a strange story to tell. Her father, her father’s best friend and historical research colleague, and the colleague’s son have all died in exactly the same way – unexpectedly, at home, and with full rigor mortis within an hour.
It's no coincidence that the murders have happened just as an exhibit has gotten underway at the British Museum – a sacred relic of Buddha, as in, his tooth (a molar, to be precise). Eight Buddhist attendants rotate guard over the tooth, a loan from the monastery in Ceylon (now Sri Linka).
The young woman, Mary Morstan, has also been receiving notes, warning her of imminent personal danger. The game’s afoot, as Holmes tells Dr John Watson, and soon the pair are investigating the deaths, the warnings, and (surprise) the theft of the tooth. With that theft, Sherlock’s brother Mycroft and the British government get involved; the loss of the tooth could lead to an uprising and war in the Indian subcontinent.
The Sign of the Tooth is the fifth in the ever-growing Sherlock Holmes series by Craig Stephen Copland, and it’s chock full of Irish terrorists, missing monks, high-stakes foreign relations, and a love story.
Copland is a longtime fan of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. After he retired, he set himself a goal of writing a new Sherlock Holmes mystery related to and inspired by each of the 60 stories published by Conan Doyle. He’s also written monographs on Holmes and two non-Holmes mystery stories featuring a detective in the Old American West, the Reverend Ezekiel Black. He currently lives and writes in Toronto, Buenos Aires, New York, and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia.
The Sign of the Tooth is a bit tongue-in-cheek; how could any contemporary version of the famous Arthur Conan Doyle detective not be, at least to a small extent. It’s a fast-paced, fast-reading, and entertaining short novel.