President Trump is visiting the Forbidden City in Beijing this week. An Empress was in charge of China when Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes visited a century ago. Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Dragon Sigil is set in 1906– 1907 and Watson is our trusty narrator. In case you’re wondering, a “sigil” (pronounced ‘sijil’) is an inscribed or painted symbol or occult sign considered to have magical power. The three main Chinese characters in the novel – Yuan Shikai, the Guangxu Emperor, and Empress Dowager Cixi – are all real people from that time.
Watson is invited to Peking by General Yuan Shikai, one of the most powerful men in China, to help form a National Medical Corps. As part of a secondary mission he travels to Peking overland through Asia and across China, making notes along the way on the country’s defences and military preparedness. In China he meets Holmes, there to investigate and thwart an assassination of either the Empress Dowager Cixi or the Guangxu Emperor. Yuan Shikai fears that the murder could trigger a civil war and the intervention of foreign powers into China.
Taking up residence in the Forbidden City, Holmes and Watson soon find themselves enmeshed in a tense atmosphere of political intrigue. The Imperial Qing Court, clearly is divided between progressives under the leadership of the Guangxu Emperor and conservatives under the Empress Dowager Cixi.
As such, any student of Chinese history already knows much of the ending; Symonds not only has to give us a nice mystery, but he has to do so with factual constraints. Published by MX Publishing.
Available from: The Strand Magazine, Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, MX Publishing, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository . https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sherlock-Holmes-Nine-Dragon-Sigil-Symonds/dp/1787050351