Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders: A Minnesota Mystery by Larry Millett #SherlockHolmes #Minnesota

Sherlock Holmes rides again in this delightful mystery, based on another newly discovered manuscript. The year is 1896, and St. Paul’s magnificent Winter Carnival is underway when Holmes and Watson are summoned by the city’s most powerful man, railroad magnate James J. Hill. It seems a wealthy young man has disappeared on the eve of his wedding, and his fiancee’ has suspiciously discarded her wedding dress. After a grisly discovery in the carnival’s ice palace leads to a flurry of clues, Holmes is on the case. His pursuit of the murderer takes him through the highest echelons of St. Paul society, over the frozen Mississippi River, and into cahoots with one Shadwell Rafferty, a gregarious saloonkeeper and part-time private investigator whose quick wit and fast thinking make him a formidable rival and an invaluable ally. A splendid sequel to Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon, and written in the same deliciously authentic Sherlockian style, this latest adventure offers an exhilarating portrait of America on the verge of a new century as well as an intriguing mystery that is nothing short of truly chilling.

Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) (Audible Plus) (AbeBooks) is the second Sherlock Holmes book set in Minnesota. There was a time when I read every Sherlock pastiche I could get my hands on, and that’s when I discovered this book. I’m in the process of downsizing my large book collection and have been able to get many of the physical books in digital format. I was delighted to find that Larry Millett’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries are part of the Audible Plus catalog and are included with membership. Score! A few weeks ago I reviewed the first book in the series, found here: Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon: A Minnesota Mystery

Written in the style of Conan Doyle, with an author’s note describing the discovery of this new manuscript, follows the previous volume in the series. The writing is such that it is easy to believe that this is another mystery chronicled by Dr. Watson, as described by Conan Doyle.

This book takes place in St. Paul, a place I’ve visited many times as I’ve family in sister city, Minneapolis. Holmes is summoned back to Minnesota in 1896, two years after the Red Demon mystery to help solve the mystery of a missing bridegroom. His severed head is found in a block of ice at the ice castle being built for the winter carnival, which still goes on to this day. Soon Holmes and Watson are on the case, as is Shadwell Rafferty, a Hagrid-like character who runs a saloon and is also a part-time private investigator who seems to be Holmes’ equal.

The book is excellently researched and you really get a feel for the city of St. Paul with the vivid descriptions. There’s an important part of the story that’s disturbing about the rape of a young woman, but it’s crucial to the story so I can deal with the grisliness of it. This is a murder mystery with a decapitated fiance’, after all.

Of all of Millett’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries, this is my favorite. It’s writing is sharp, detailed, and keeps you on your toes. Despite having read the book 25 years ago, I did not remember how the book ended and was once again surprised at having found out who the murderer was.

The Audible narrator was great, and really captured the way I picture Holmes and Watson sounding. I’m so glad I could get this book for free with my Audible Plus subscription and look forward to the next book in the series.

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