As a young medical student, Arthur Conan Doyle-the creator of Sherlock Holmes-studied under one of the pioneers in forensic medicine, Dr. Joseph Bell. While details of Doyle’s actual relationship with the Doctor remain shrouded in mystery, author David Pirie has created an engrossing series that pairs the two as partners in criminal investigations in the dark underworlds of Victorian Edinburgh.
The Night Calls chronicles their most frightening and disturbing case, the encounter with the man who prefigures Holmes’ archnemesis Moriarty. A series of bizarre and outlandish assaults on women in the brothels of Edinburgh has caught the attention of Bell, who calls on Doyle to assist in the investigation. At the same time, however, there’s a violent struggle for women's educational rights taking place at the university’s medical school where Doyle is a student. There he meets young Elsbeth Scott, a fellow student with an unfortunate list of enemies, among them a crazed misogynist student name Crawford, and the smiling hypocritical patron of the university, Henry Carlisle.
Bell slowly begins to realize that the increasingly freakish crimes indicate a heretofore unknown and terrifying kind of criminal, one who is not susceptible to the Doctor’s old methods. The Night Calls takes them from the evil heart of old Edinburgh into what Bell calls their “fight against the future” and to London itself, where Doyle again faces a villain with terrifying results.