“When I returned to the King’s service, I never thought the most gruesome scene I’d encounter would be the dining room of a French villa. As a young Army surgeon in Afghanistan I had seen the unfortunate results of still-living men only partially obliterated by artillery. I had seen the queer bloodless waxen figures left behind after a beheading. I had seen the rainbow hues of women and children stoned to death rather than being left behind to be liberated by His Majesty’s fighting men. So many deaths, brutal, savage, but in their own way honest. A rock hurled, a blade swung, even a shell fired. A man had looked at another man and chose to end his life with violence. Nature at its most pure and most ugly. But this dining room tableau was inhuman, unnatural. Twenty mid-ranking members of Ally brass representing Britain, France, Australia, and Canada, blue and contorted, dried trails of every variety of effluvia that seemed to have been squeezed from their bodies by the giant invisible hand of some capricious pagan deity. I said a brief prayer into the scented handkerchief at my nose.”
It has been many years since Sherlock Holmes retired and Mycroft Holmes died, leaving Watson alone as the crumbling Empire’s last able man.
When a number of mid-level Ally brass are murdered, miles from the front, Watson is summoned to investigate. He finds a new, deadly gas is being developed. A gas that could devour western Europe, and hand total victory to the Kaiser. England needs a good, trustworthy man–trained by the Master Detective himself–to end find the gas’ source and stop its development.
Thus Mycroft’s successor sends him on a one-man mission across Europe, deep behind enemy lines, with the fate of Europe itself on his shoulders…
But does Watson have a history with the German scientist who developed the gas?