Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus by P.C. Martin is the first installment of an ongoing adventure series published by Noble Beast, LLC. It is a reasonably short book, but by the end there is no doubt that it is only part of a much larger tale. The characters are comfortably familiar while the city of London is enveloped with steam and wonder. Together this makes for a fast paced mystery with strange discoveries around every corner.
The character of Sherlock Holmes is stock, drawn right from the pages of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The sociopathic tendencies mixed with astute abilities of reasoning are recognizable to most readers of the famed detective. A small yet vital deviation from the original character would be that his addiction to drugs is replaced by an uncontrollable interest in technology and inventive gadgetry. This slight variation becomes the bridge by which Holmes is able to embrace the Steampunk world.
Holmes’ assistant, Doctor Watson, is more representative of the Steampunk handbook with his mechanical arm and various detachable gadgets. But what makes this Watson character so charismatic is his pure honesty and admitted incredulity of the strange world around him. Oddly, the antisocial Holmes is more comfortable in this fast paced world, rather than Watson, who would normally be a better fit. This unique twist is a compelling element readers can embrace as these characters develop.
Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock’s older brother, is another familiar character from the classic Doyle stories. Though this time around, Mycroft is the attractive “sister” of the investigator. Doyle had also insinuated without thorough revelation that Mycroft was involved with the British government. Martin’s Mycroft confirms that suspicion by giving Mycroft a much larger role and placing her at the top of the British government. Her influence can be overpowering at times, but her love and respect for her brother is undeniable. Watson’s uncomfortable infatuation with the woman is anther caveat, bringing a freshness to the characters not available in the original version.
The Nautilus is merely a backdrop for the investigation, but it plays a larger role in the overall series. Captain Nemo and the craft reportedly no longer exist. But plans for rebuilding the historic vessel have been stolenthe Crown needs Holmes’ assistance in retrieving them before they fall into the wrong hands.
The methodic search for clues is classic Holmes. His eccentric investigative techniques pull the reader along with fascinating astuteness of the smallest of details. This part of the story could be played out in almost any setting or genre. The clues are doled out in hints along the way, allowing the reader to attempt to match wits with the master. But the mystery and history behind the fabled vessel is the muscle behind the Steampunk elements along with the ingenuity of Holmes.
Though not an overwhelming length, Steampunk Holmes: Legacy of the Nautilus gets the mystery solved in a tidy manner. However, Martin still leaves a few enticing loose ends, just to keep the sleuth (and the reader) on the trail of the mystery behind the fabled ship. This should not be a problem since there are plenty of nuances of the classic Holmes to please the avid fan while leaving just enough anachronisms to make the Steampunk enthusiast satisfied as well.