“The Case of the Bloodless Sock” — Anne Perry

Anne Perry is the bestselling, Edgar Award-winning author of many novels and two long-running Victorian-era mystery series; the first of these, which began with The Cater Street Hangman, chronicles the cases of police inspector Thomas Pitt, while the other, beginning with The Face of a Stranger, recounts the adventures of the amnesiac detective William Monk. Perry is also the author of a historical fiction series set during World War I (No Graves As Yet, et seq.), and two fantasy novels, Tathea and Come Armageddon. Her latest novels are Buckingham Palace Gardens and Execution Dock, with A Christmas Promise due in October.

Everyone knows Professor Moriarty as the arch-nemesis of Sherlock Holmes, but most people would probably be surprised to learn that Moriarty appeared in person in only one of Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories, “The Final Problem.” The author was ready to bring his Sherlock Holmes tales to a suitably dramatic conclusion, and Professor Moriarty—the Napoleon of crime, who pulls the strings of a vast criminal conspiracy—was invented to be a suitably imposing adversary, a match for the great detective, whose downfall would allow Sherlock Holmes to go out in a blaze of glory. (The character Moriarty was partially based on Adam Worth, a cultured master criminal who once stole a valuable Thomas Gainsborough painting only to discover that he liked the painting too much to sell it, which angered the men who had helped him steal it. Interestingly, Worth also—unlike Moriarty—ordered his men not to use violence in the course of their robberies.) Of course, the audience wanted more Holmes, and more Moriarty too, and so Moriarty has subsequently enjoyed a long and notorious career in books, film, and TV. Moriarty returns again in this next tale, with a characteristically diabolical scheme.