[I received a copy of this novel through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.]
Decent but nothing to write home about. While I found myself excited at first, because it was reminiscent of actual Sherlock Holmes adventures, I also ended up losing touch fairly easily, and not being really interested in what was happening. Perhaps because of the hints at a potential attraction toward the French artist (I don't know... for me, Irene Adler still remains the only woman for Sherlock). Or because the mystery itself seemed to drag, and to lack the usual “punch” I expect in a Holmes & Watson adventure.
I thought Sherlock overlooked quite a few things, and made a few too many mistakes here, mistakes that didn't ring “true” to his character. Granted, I haven't read any of the original stories in a few years; however, I don't remember him as endangering himself so because he miscalculated an enemy's move, for instance. He felt and acted as less acute than his usual self here, and all in all, he wasn't the Holmes I'm used to: making him more approachable didn't work here, and seeing his judgment sometimes impaired by tepid emotions was... strange. He was too remote from Doyle's Sherlock, yet didn't bring anything original or particularly interesting to the character.
(On the other hand, Watson wasn't introduced, nor acted, as the bumbling idiot he too often is in too many stories, which is always good in my opinion!)
The mystery itself was so-so. Not particularly interesting, a bit all over the place (France, London, art, potential love interests, kids disappearing, shifty French detective, Vidocq, a suspicious gaoler, silk trade...), beating around the bush, Mycroft's way of getting involved and making things easier for the characters—resulting in not much investigating on their part where there should've been... I suppose the themes it raised, like children treated as slaves or worse, should've been treated more seriously, only some of this was just thrown in, especially at the end, and its impact thus lowered.
The writing itself: not terrific either. Not emulating a “Victorian” style of writing, not close to Doyle's, too modern in parts... It didn't do much for me. Same with the “art” part, and the way it could've ran parallel with investigation methods: it didn't deliver.
1.5/2 stars. I can't say I hated it, but I just didn't care.