Having left his position at Durham University under a cloud, Professor James Moriarty now works at the Patent Office. When his old nemesis Lord Nettleton submits an engine to be patented, Moriarty notes that the machine is missing a vital gauge which will demonstrate its inferiority to the public. On the night before the exhibition, Moriarty surreptitiously installs the gauge on the machine. The next morning he attends the exhibition where, to his horror, he sees the machine explode when it is turned on, killing a man in the process.
With the voluptuous and conniving American widow Mrs. Angelina Gould at his side, Moriarty tries to discover what caused the fatal accident. But the police and Sherlock Holmes are on the case as well, and Holmes has his sights set on Moriarty as the man responsible for murder. What follows is a tremendous game of intrigue, burglary, blackmail, and romance, as Moriarty tries to elude the insufferable Holmes and unravel the mysteries surrounding the explosion and the delightful Angelina.
This book was well plotted, with memorable characters in every corner of the cast. Moriarty was entirely sympathetic, a man noble and misunderstood while Holmes, with his beaky nose perpetually giving away his costume, was insufferable and pretentious. The Victorian mania for speculation and its frequent result of financial ruin provided a brilliant backdrop for the adventure. The title contains a double entendre–not only does Moriarty meet his intellectual match in the antagonistic Sherlock Holmes, but he also meets his perfect match in the charming and enigmatic Angelina Gould. The book contained a little more sexual content than I would have preferred, but on the whole it was a delightful read, and I look forward to more stories about the hero Anna Castle has created out of Conan Doyle’s villain.