Reviews: Moriarty Takes His Medicine

Moriarty Takes His Medicine by Anna Castle“A captured wife, a clever and devious doctor, and women in disguise … all the trappings of a Holmes case are embellished and enhanced throughout, contributing to a mystery whose tension is well-drawn and whose plot is satisfyingly unpredictable and complex.

Mystery and humor are not often bedfellows in the intrigue genre, but in Moriarty Takes His Medicine, they are not only strange companions, but they successfully work hand-in-hand to create an inviting, fun read that alternately has readers laughing and scratching their heads.

Picture a focus not just on Sherlock Holmes’ investigations, but the character of Professor Moriarty: one which keeps the action vivid, but considers it from a different angle, and which doesn’t ban Mrs. Moriarty from the headlines, either.

In this latest adventure, the Professor and his Mrs. face their new marriage, life together, and a host of secrets keeping them at arm’s length – including a case too challenging for even the great Sherlock Holmes. Given the nature of all these circumstances, how can the newly-formed dynamic duo solve their case and address their maintain newfound marital blend of bliss and discord at the same time?

As events unfold, Holmes finds himself requiring the assistance of Angelina Moriarty to solve a case where a woman can go where men cannot, and as she places herself in danger to get at the heart of a murdering physician’s routines, Moriarty, Holmes and Watson must work together on their greatest case yet.

Fans of Sherlock Holmes will welcome the different perspectives provided throughout Moriarty Takes His Medicine, which illustrate not just the investigation but the motives and approaches of all involved: “Every word, even the complaints, tells me how much you love your husband. Otherwise, you’d talk about something else. Let’s try to remember why you married him in the first place.” More sensible advice. Would he bother if he meant to murder her in a few weeks? But she played along. She remembered perfectly why she’d married James Moriarty. He’d saved her life and as they went on from there, she’d fallen in love with him.”

Especially recommended for fans of Sherlock Holmes, this addition to a growing series continues to add nuances and details that grow characters and present plots that are engaging, fun, and complex.”

– D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review


It’s a daunting thing to take up a beloved story series and add one’s own spin to it, but just as the recent Sherlock video series has reinvigorated the visual narrative and atmosphere when viewers like me would have thought Jeremy Brett the definitive Sherlock, so has Anna Castle shown us what might be done in our era with the stories that got generations of readers hooked on detective fiction in the 19th century. I was able to jump right in with the second volume of the Moriarty series—testimony to Castle’s writing skill.

As the tale opens, Moriarty is thoroughly domestic and thoroughly harassed. His fussy wife is redoing their newlywed home to her taste, harrying him from room to room and then to his club, and we wonder just how someone as important and complex as Holmes’s nemesis could be in such insubstantial circumstances, attached to such a fluttery creature. But then we learn that perhaps “nemesis” is an exaggeration, and perhaps there’s another way to look at the characters we’ve known, or thought we knew, all along.

For with pretty deft handling, we get glimpses of the story from Book 1, and tantalizing peeks at Mrs. Moriarty’s sister, a woman of questionable character. All that’s just in the background, though soon to be brought into the foreground as the game comes afoot. For it seems some wealthy women are dying at an alarming rate, and soon after their special treatment for the nervous disorders of the Victorian era. And it seems only some wily women might be able to infiltrate the facility—Holmes’s famous disguises just won’t do.

The rollicking story is satisfyingly predictable, and this easy read entices us to pick up Book 1 and to also look forward to the next in the series.

– Cindy Rinaman Marsch, A Discovering Diamonds review


1st place Best in Category: Mystery& Mayhem
First Place in the 2018 CIBAs for Mystery and Mayhem.

In Anna Castle’s British historical, cozy mystery novel, Moriarty Takes His Medicine, we find James Moriarty and his new bride, Angeline, struggling with their exciting, new relationship once the dust settles, so to speak.

James Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes’s nemesis, is a man who cares deeply for his wife, so much so, that he is driven to distraction and embraces the help of his former foe as an ally to help rescue Angelina from grave danger.

Sound like a melodrama? It is. Melodrama at it’s best, with strong women characters from the 1880s in several roles, providing a 2020 twist to the male-dominated period. That being said, Castle is no slouch when it comes to providing accurate historical details. She’s done her research and offers it up in an engaging and entertaining novel. The health spas and health tonics of the time provides an impressive backdrop to the mystery she develops, as Sherlock Holmes comes to Moriarty for help on a curious case, the death of a beloved aunt whose nephew suspects foul play. Together Moriarty and Holmes uncover a plot of devious mischief by medical professionals at a high-end spa/hospital where several elderly women and wealthy wives have stayed, only to die unexpectedly at home. Castle begins with the death of one woman.

Moriarty, Holmes, and Watson find that many of the women’s deaths went unchallenged because they all died at home after their stay, pointing to their own negligence and not that of the hospital, a devious plan, to say the least. Dr. Watson plays a small but crucial role at the beginning of their investigation as he uncovers the meaning behind “the Clennam treatment,” referring to a character from Little Dorritt, a Charles Dickens novel. And so, as Holmes is want to say, the game’s afoot.

Angelina’s past as a performer, a vocation she sorely misses, provides her with a means to help when she realizes her sister is being sent to the notorious spa for “the Clennam” treatment, code for “kill her.” Angelina takes on the most dangerous role of her life when she finds herself under the “Clennam” treatment.

Castle introduces the tonic as one in a series of archaic and debunked methods of treatment. She also explores aspects of electric shock therapy, and “the rest cure,” a popular method of treating a nervous and perhaps unruly woman to a treatment that did nothing to cure the root cause of their ailments. Alas, at that time, the men knew best even when they were wrong.

Castle turns this male-dominated society on its head. Women display their strength and ability to problem solve as they help to resolve this crime, and they do it with the full support of their men. A very satisfying twist on the social norms of the time, which brings us to a satisfactory conclusion.

In the end, we have something akin to a Shakespeare “comedy,” all the “good” characters live, all the lovers end up happily together, and all the villains fail and are doomed to suffer.

As the second novel in a series, this book could stand-alone. This romp through the beloved world of Sherlock Holmes will surprise you at every turn and please Sherlockians as well as lovers of British cozy mystery fans.

– Chanticleer review 01/08/2020

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