Cover image for Sherlock Holmes and the secret alliance
Sherlock Holmes and the secret alliance
Millett, Larry, 1947-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, 2001.
Physical Description:
322 pages : map ; 24 cm
General Note:
"Featuring Shadwell Rafferty."
Personal Subject:
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"In Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance, Holmes's American consort, Irish saloonkeeper Shadwell Rafferty, is taking his first crack at a case that looks like it may send a whole city government tumbling. Rafferty, large-hearted and massively built, has a talent for logic, dissimulation, bribery, and action that is surpassed only by his love of "the detectin' game." On the eve of President William McKinley's visit in 1899 to Minneapolis, a gruesome crime draws Rafferty from St. Paul to the booming city across the river." "A young union activist has been found, strung naked from a tree outside a ruined mansion. A placard around his neck bears the ominous words The Secret Alliance Has Spoken. Rafferty plunges into the case with his usual gusto, but finds more questions than answers. Was the murder the work of the union-busting Citizens Alliance or wild-eyed anarchists? Was the victim linked to an empire of corruption controlled by the city's slippery mayor? And how did the young man come to possess a photograph of a prominent citizen engaged in sexual congress? As the puzzle deepens and the dangers mount, Rafferty is joined, just in time, by his old friends Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Author Notes

Larry Millett is a columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Sherlock Holmes has a friend in the wilds of Minnesota (both forested and urban) at the turn of the century. St. Paul saloonkeeper Shadwell Rafferty, a sometime associate and longtime correspondent with Watson and Holmes (and, according to Watson, very like the Master in being able to tolerate anything save boredom), plunges into his fourth sleuthing adventure--after Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon (1996), Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders (1998), and Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery (1999). On the eve of President McKinley's 1899 visit to Minneapolis, a union activist is discovered hanging naked from a tree outside a mansion. The death threatens to bring down the already shaky and corrupt city government. As Rafferty investigates--his technique includes equal parts detection and bribery--he soon finds himself in mortal danger. As with the previous Raffertys, the action eventually involves Holmes and Watson in the frozen Northland. Great fun. --Connie Fletcher

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Millet's fourth, well-researched Holmes in Minnesota adventure (after 2001's Sherlock Holmes and the Rune Stone Mystery), flamboyant Irish saloonkeeper Shadwell Rafferty scents an impending bloodbath when Michael O'Donnell, a young union man and mill worker, is found hanged, naked, from an oak tree in downtown Minneapolis. Around the victim's neck is a placard: "The Secret Alliance Has Spoken." Everyone assumes it is a warning from the paramilitary anti-union Secret Alliance, but no one seems to understand its significance. Rafferty seeks help from Holmes, who's in New York on a case for John Jacob Astor. The world's greatest private consulting detective doesn't enter the action until the novel's half over, though entries from Dr. Watson's journal at the start of each chapter keep the reader informed of his thoughts and movements. Turn-of-the-century Minneapolis on the eve of a visit from President McKinley comes vividly to life as one of the most corrupt cities in America, rife with evil schemes and dirty deeds. Rafferty is no deductive wizard like Holmes, but a street-smart, methodical man who plods from witness to witness to discover the truth behind O'Donnell's lynching, which, in the end, proves amazingly complex. A columnist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the author is obviously in love with local history. Both Holmes fans and historical mystery buffs should be pleased. Agent, Bob Barnett. (Oct. 15) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In Millett's Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance, Shadwell Rafferty, an Irish saloon keeper and sometime detective, returns for his fourth adventure. The book opens with the gruesome lynching of Michael O'Donnell, a union activist, by a secret anti-union organization in a very corrupt Minneapolis in 1899. As various complications ensue, including the visit of President McKinley to the Twin Cities, Rafferty realizes that he is out of his depth and enlists the aid of Holmes and Watson. The novel contains structural flaws that will mar the experience even for readers who accept the absurd premise of the presidential visit. The narrative flow is periodically broken by entries from Watson's journals, written in an elliptical style that omits certain short words and refers to characters by their initials. On the other hand, Millett provides a map and 20 pages of historical and explanatory notes at the end of his book, which lend an air of verisimilitude. Still, if library purchase of only one of these is possible, the Kendrick is the better bet. Fred Gervat, Concordia Coll., Bronxville, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.