The Irregular by HB Lyle, TP $20.49
The early twentieth century is not normally a setting that I am drawn to. Until I had chosen Joe Ide's book for my book of the year, Sherlock Holmes pastiche would not have been either. This year however, despite truly enjoying a number of novels that would have fit more into my choices of the past, it was HB Lyle's debut spy novel The Irregular that has created made me consider both the period and the Holmesian oeuvre as a whole. Lyle's protagonist, Wiggins is, one of the orphans trained by the Great Detective to be his Baker St Irregulars. Now an adult, and with the Empire facing new challenges, Wiggins is encouraged by Holmes to work for Vernon Kell's new 'Secret' Service: the first non-gentleman agent to become a member.
Well grounded in the history of London and (England) in the build-up to World War One, and framed within the canon of Sherlock, it is nonetheless a refreshing and finely crafted narrative with a refreshing villian and twist. Any fans of historical fiction would do well to pick this up, as would anyone with an interest in the development of modern spycraft, or just new stories with Holmes in mind.