A man dies. At first it appears to be a simple case of a senile person falling down the stairs in the middle of the night but when it’s revealed that his will is missing it seems there is something sinister occurring, and Holmes and Watson are engaged in the case. Meanwhile, mysterious iron men have been carrying out robberies, and these contraptions have Inspector Bainbridge perplexed.
The story here isn’t simply one penned by Watson, there are other sections inserted by a couple of other characters. This helps break up the flow of the narrative and offers a couple of different perspectives. The main plot is one that is fairly straightforward yet not without intrigue, and it does feel very much like a Holmes story. The subplot of the iron men brings a steampunk flavour to the story but it’s always burning in the background and feels rather inconsequential. In fact it was strange that the climax of the book was given to wrapping up this mystery when the main story was finished a few pages previously. It does give the impression of ongoing adventures though, and speaks to the facts that these characters endure.
I found the narrative to be engaging and fast-paced. It’s a very easy book to read that flows nicely and I finished it over a period of two days. It’s actually a little shorter than it initially appears since a short story is included, also featuring the Bainbridge character. This was okay, although I didn’t find it too interesting. It seems as though there are a series of stories by Mann that follow these other characters but this story didn’t do much to endear me to them.
Overall I think it was a decent book. It certainly has the traditional feeling of a Holmes case, and I liked how it didn’t try to be too epic or grandiose. The iron men could have been developed more fully but it’s a quick read that’s ideal to keep one’s mind occupied.