The Wayward Prince
reviewed by Warner Holme
Leonard Goldberg’s The Wayward Prince is the seventh in his Daughter of Sherlock Holmes Mystery series. With a wartime setting and the legacy of an old enemy appearing, there is a lot to recommend the book and its characters to curious parties.
Set during the First World War, often referred to as the Great War in the copywriting, this volume deals with the disappearance of a certain member of the royal family, as well as the multifaceted conspiracy behind it. It’s a good combination of aspects that manage to remind readers of the kind of adventures Sherlock Holmes regularly engaged in while drawing on elements of the updated setting that these particular stories use.
The characters seen in previous volumes largely reappear, with Joanna and her husband taking the lead, followed only slightly distantly by his father, the legendary John H. Watson. Each remains true to their depictions earlier in the series, with the classic Watson seeming perhaps in slightly better health than he has in some of the other books as the biggest difference. Characters who were given far fewer appearances in the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories appear, with those who had made appearances in the Goldberg series continuing their character arcs, and those appearing for the first time being well-utilized.
Locations and personages from the original stories play a greater part in this book than most of the others in the series. This even includes none other than the Reichenbach Falls, a familiar and fatal location that is used quite ominously in this book. As a figure from the past takes an increasing role in the narrative and the stakes increase, readers will wonder more about how the leads will get out of a predicament than if they will.
The historical details are, if not perfect, certainly believable and within the realm of the understandable for the time. The limited treatment options for issues like syphilis, criminal status of abortions, and continued worry about the war are merely the tip of the iceberg for elements of the past which appear. Most of the sympathetic characters are quite forward-thinking racially and in general, with the most obvious departure being a consistent referring to Germans as “Huns” in a way that clearly connects to wartime antagonisms.
As the seventh book in the series, there are numerous references to previous adventures, however, this never feels like a deep and heavy continuity. Indeed, thanks to the legacy of the classic Sherlock Holmes stories, it is expected that some references might be to pieces that were never actually published. While one or two questions of the transition are either unanswered or glossed over extremely quickly, overall, this volume would work well enough as a jumping-on point for a new reader.
This is a clever volume that ties repeatedly into the history of Sherlock Holmes and Europe. The use of historical struggles, era-appropriate crime, and figures from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is masterful. While the question of where the story might go next will come into some minds, the book has a very nice self-contained mystery and arc that are excellent to read.
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