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    THE GREAT GAME by Michael Kurland


    St. Martin's Minotaur, August 2001

    It is the end of the 19th century and the world is torn by political unrest and assasination. Lacking a true intelligence service, Britain relies on its aristocratic young men--talented amateurs who play at 'the Great Game.' When one of these young men is accused of assasination himself, his father turns to Professor Moriarty to uncover the truth.

    Both Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes have caught hints of a connecting thread that ties together apparently unconnected and random acts of terror. Both end up investigating in Vienna and around the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although the two make for unlikely allies (Holmes suspects Moriarty of every crime that he cannot solve), this Great Game is too important for petty differences to stand in the way. The fate of Europe itself stands at the balance.

    Much of the novel concerns the problems that Moriarty's friends Benjamin Barnett and Cecily Perrine Barnett get into. While vacationing in Europe, the two Americans become entrapped in the web of conspiracy that seems to hang over all of Austria.

    Author Michael Kurland has created a delightful adventure. Transforming Moriarty from the 'Napoleon of Crime,' that A. Conan Doyle described into a consulting criminal interested only in making enough money to pursue his scientific experiments makes for an amusing twist on an old favorite. Mortiarty, Benjamin and Cecily Barnett are well crafted characters with believable motivation and convincing actions.

    Fans of Sherlock Holmes may initially cringe at this description of the great detective. Stick with it, though. Both Holmes and Moriarty are sympathetically drawn.

    Four Stars

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