Sherlock Holmes and his wife, Mary Russel, board a cruise ship to take them from India, where they had their last case, to Japan. Watching the passengers board, Holmes recognizes the Earl of Darby, who he believes is a blackmailer. Later this presumption is borne out when a young woman goes missing after the ship has sailed. Holmes believes that Darby was blackmailing her, and she decided to take her own life when she saw him on the ship.
Once in Japan, we have extensive, well-researched, travel by Holmes and Mary through rural Japan in the 1920s. During this trek the plot is revealed.
This is a very slow paced mystery. In fact, the actual detective work doesn't start until two-thirds of the way through the novel. I'm rather torn about this because the shipboard details and the travels through rural Japan are interesting and well written. However, if you're looking for fast paced thriller or even a fast paced cozy mystery this isn't it.
The book is told from Mary Russel's viewpoint which means that we see little of Holmes deductive abilities. I admit I became rather tired of reading about Mary's discomfort on the ship and in the travels in Japan. If you've read the other novels in the series, you may find this one interesting. I found it slow, and I couldn't get interested in the rather sketchy portrayal of Holmes. What I love are his deductive abilities and these were hardly in evidence.
I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.