From the Author
I spent several months reading everything I could on the final dramatic years of the Great Ch'ing. It tottered Hamlet-like to its grisly end. I learnt at least two things from all the research - first, that the Empress Dowager Cixi was one of the most remarkable rulers ever to command a vast nation and deserves a much better press than history so far has accorded her, and secondly, if you ever come across a Time Machine, don't even think about landing in The Forbidden City in 1907 when Holmes and Watson find themselves in that fabled but dangerously unpredictable Alice-In-Wonderland city. Instead I recommend Time Travllers to visit the peaceful English countryside of Sussex where I sited my first novel, 'Sherlock Holmes And The Dead Boer At Scotney Castle', set in 'Bateman's, the house owned by Rudyard Kipling.
From the Inside Flap
Like all my plots, Sherlock Holmes And The Nine-Dragon Sigil takes place in the halcyon days when Edward V11 of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was on the throne of England, the king-emperor for whom the Era was named, a time when yellow fogs drifted eerily along London's half-lit streets, agile Hansom cabs with Holmes and Watson bumping around inside rattled away to heaven-knows-where, a 'leisurely time when women wore picture hats and did not vote, when the rich were not ashamed to live conspicuously, and the sun never set on the British flag'. Edwardian summers were reputed to be unusually warm though the Meteorological Office tells me this was not true.
By the time Edward came to the throne in 1901, Holmes and Watson had spent the best part of two decades together, solving knotty cases which baffled the best of Scotland Yard's detectives. The great Consulting Detective's use of observation, deductive reasoning and scientific knowledge fascinated young and old, rich and poor, New York illuminatus or London East Ender alike.
It was a period when Holmes and Watson reached their height in experience and maturity, men of the world in step with the immense British Empire. Even Watson's confidence was burgeoning despite Holmes's occasional biting put-downs. The real-life Criminologist Ashton-Wolfe later recorded in The Illustrated London News that many methods
invented by Sherlock Holmes became commonplace in police practices. The quick arrival at the scene, the examination of the lock and key, the bed, the chairs, the carpet, the mantelpiece, the body and the rope.