Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-dragon Sigil

Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-dragon Sigil


It’s the year 1906. Rumours abound that a deadly plot is hatching – not in the fog-ridden back-alleys of London’s Limehouse district or the sinister Devon moors of the Hound of the Baskervilles but in faraway Peking. Holmes’s task – discover whether such a plot exists and if so, foil it.

But are the assassins targeting the young and progressive Ch’ing Emperor or his imperious aunt, the fearsome Empress Dowager Cixi?

The murder of either could spark a civil war.

China’s fate and the interests of Britain’s Empire in the Orient could be at stake.

Holmes and Watson take up the mission with their customary confidence – until they find they are no longer in the familiar landscapes of Edwardian England. Instead, they tumble into the Alice In Wonderland world of the Forbidden City.

Where to buy

Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-dragon Sigil is available from all good bookstores including in the UK Amazon UK, Waterstones and WHSmiths and in the USA Amazon US, Barnes and Noble and for everywhere else Book Depository who offer free worldwide delivery. Also available in ebook format Kindle, Nook, iPad and Kobo.

If you would like a signed copy of the book from Tim Symonds at a special price of £6, please add the book to the shopping cart and Tim will personally send you out a copy. FREE Postage and Packaging in the UK (Please contact Tim Symonds for shipping costs if you are outside of the UK.)

Author: Tim Symonds
Product ID: 2326


8 reviews for Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-dragon Sigil

  1. stu

    “This is the first book I’ve read by Tim Symonds and I am certain it won’t be the last.
    I feel like the original author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, left the mysteries of Sherlock Holmes open for writers like this. The story fits so perfectly with the original works, it’s no wonder Holmes and Watson keep coming back!
    This book is a perfect replication of the original writing style and characterizations. It’s in Dr. Watson’s point of view, just like the originals, and on more than one occasion does an excellent job of reflecting the good old doctor’s sense of overwhelm/amazement onto the readers, themselves!
    Holmes has retired to Sussex. But we all know retirement has a different meaning for a man like Holmes and his trusty doctor Watson.
    It doesn’t take long for Holmes and Watson to find themselves up and running again, solving crime like the good old days. Like the characters, you’re taken to a world of wonder that has been beautifully described in Dr. Watson’s first person old English.
    The novel keeps a steady pace that seemingly picks up when the action and deductions start rolling in. It’s kind of like a roller coaster, as far as pacing goes, and I love it! I always found the originals had a similar heart throbbing affect that tend to keep the readers on edge.
    Let’s just say this action packed mystery will keep you guessing, just as all Holmes stories should.”

  2. stu

    ‘epic new release Sherlock Holmes And The Nine-Dragon Sigil.’

    ‘Author Tim Symonds’ writing is exceptional. It flows in tune with the settings and the era the story is set in and reminds the reader of the beautifully poetic and enchanting rhythm that the classic authors had.’

    ‘I was completely spellbound by the captivating storytelling and the flow of the sentences in old English.
    The plot is ingenious and the pacing is moderate, but it picks up wherever the need arises, keeping it thoroughly engaging for the reader.’

    ‘And needless to say, the end completely baffled me and left me sitting there, holding the Kindle in my hands, smiling at the author’s cleverness. It was a true jaw-dropping ending! And it was mostly because the author handled foreshadowing really well.’

    ‘The characters were done complete justice and I really enjoyed how the author’s classy sense of humor came out through the characters.
    And a bonus for me was that being an Asian myself, I enjoyed the author’s fascinating details and descriptions of China to no end.’

    ‘I loved this book and would recommend it to all the Sherlock Holmes fans, mystery lovers and anyone with a craving for a well-written piece of English literature.’

  3. stu

    ‘This novel has been an unexpected gem with which to begin my reading year. Its author very kindly sent me a complimentary copy before Christmas and it became a part of my winter break. When revision was over, it was to the world of Holmes, Watson and Imperial China that I turned for a breath of relief. And what a breath.

    The hardest part of all Holmesian pastiche, I feel, is Watson. Holmes is a fine edged character, filmed and written and chiseled out by society into an immovable, timeliness figure. Throw in a good plot (which this book truly does have), pipe smoking and incredible deductions (all accounted for) and you’re on safe ground. But with Watson the task is much harder, for he is the reader’s window into the world, who must comfort you on your journey, be sufficiently uniformed as to not spoil the novel, but also clever enough to be believed as a Doctor. This is a difficult balance and one which Symonds addresses with a real skill. From the very first page Watson’s calm, bedside manner and indefatigable britishness was apparent and welcome. For instance: “My old comrade-in-arms…” In this, I saw the militarism, the brotherhood, the empathy and the loyalty of Watson – loyalty to his friend, to his nation and to the “higher standard” to which he always esteemed. In safe hands, then, we are taken on a journey into new realms…

    The novel is set, for the most part, in The Forbidden City of China in 1906. This was one of the most enchantingly dangerous locations I have read about for quite sometime. Its seductive “peach blossoms”, trees, gardens, and gates were luxuriantly sketched and the sense of place was truly immersive. On that point, the level of detail and understanding which went into this novel is very impressive. Historical facts and hints of a bigger picture, as well as an abundance of customs and cultural features gave decoration to an already prodigious construction. Some of these facts were painfully antiquated and barbarous, some were elegant and beautiful – just as it should be. For example, being something of a Tea-o-logician, the details about drinking different teas according to the seasons was very nice. (It’s the little things that keep the big things together.)

    As to the big things, the novel has an equally good grasp of the wider political concern at the time, with Germany’s “Kaiser” on the rise and Imperialism at its most expansive. This colonial theme was extremely interesting and tied in nicely with my own interest in the period. However, I’d never considered China’s role on that landscape before, and to be lost with Holmes and Watson in the – as Symonds notes – “Alice In Wonderland world” of China was a genuine pleasure. It’s a place I think I shall revisit with some wider reading of my own, which, happily, is springboarded by Symonds with a very useful bibliography. (The mark of a considerate scholar if ever I saw it.) As well as militarism and empire, there is fashion, there is women’s “suffrage”, there is language and logograms. All these details, these social and political nuances made the novel a rich, rich experience.

    Aside from the politics, the narrative is adventurous and grand. Indeed, I was reminded of classic adventure stories like Buchan’s The 39 Steps, James Hilton’s Lost Horizon and, interestingly, Doyle’s The Lost World. To be a part of this bold and daring tradition is a remarkable achievement, and it’s good to know that stories for the heart as much as the mind are still out there and flourishing.

    Beginning in England, the reader is soon trekking through the Asian wilderness during some excellently framed early chapters. One could taste the reality in every step of the journey, with the precision of Watson’s measurements, the presence of insects, the unusual anecdotes and so on. This level of detail is no accident or artifice, either. Reading the brief biography of Symonds in the front pages of the book, it is revealed that he farmed in the Highlands of Kenya and travelled along the Zambezi River in Central Africa; has lived in Guernsey, Germany and America; though, like Holmes and Watson, he returned to England and East Sussex to write this novel. Clearly a much travelled foot and eye, then, with a wealth of experience to draw upon and re-create. Without falling too far into the biographical fallacy, I think it’s safe to say there is a bit of Watson in Tim Symonds, or something of Symonds in John Watson — I forget which is real, after all these years living with Holmes in my life.

    Truly, this a great addition to the Sherlockian world, with a brilliantly constructed plot, complete with clever clues – that I’ve taken great care to avoid in this review – and moments of action, humour and mystery. I’d be very surprised if any aficionado can pass this up.

    Informal aside: I really liked the bit when Watson insists that David Livingston is a “Scotsman!” That did make me chuckle; it was so wonderfully true to the character!’

  4. stu

    Tim Symonds’ SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE NINE-DRAGON SIGIL could rival Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As a lover of period pieces, especially those with a mystery, the idea of reading a Sherlock Holmes story was an easy decision.

    For me, the story itself wasn’t just entertaining. It was visually satisfying with its richness of detail and descriptions. While Edwardian England is of interest to me, early twentieth century China tickled the senses with its sea of color, movement, sounds, tastes and smells.

    Purveyors of a good bit of detective work have nothing on Mr. Symonds. I loved everything about this story from the pacing–the opening with Watson reminded me of so many other Sherlock Holmes stories that it was easy to fall under its spell–to the utterly fascinating descriptions of China, I was instantly taken in and quick to read.

    Whether you are a lover of detective stories, period pieces, or a combination thereof, it simply isn’t possible to go wrong choosing this Sherlock Holmes story. And I certainly hope that you’ll be as tickled with it as I was. – See more at:

  5. stu

    This book is not only brilliantly written, it is exceedingly well researched. I enjoyed the detail in the history every bit as much as the story itself. The historical fiction is as clever as the stylistically accurate incorporation of by far the two most famous characters of Doyle’s huge imagination—two characters as famous as any in literary fiction.

    I very much enjoyed the ‘glossary’ at the end of the book, which gave depth to so much of the period detail. This additional information didn’t add to, or subtract from, the story itself, but certainly gives those such as I, ignorant of Chinese history, a much needed and speedy education. All the material is self-explanatory enough in the run of the story, however, the additional information rounds off this reading experience quite delightfully.

    I recommend this book to fans of Sherlock Holmes, lovers of historical fiction and to all those that like a wide variety of well-written fiction. I will be looking to read further books from Tim Symonds’ pen.

  6. Andy Spencer

    Sherlock Holmes And The Nine-Dragon Sigil

    The Frontispiece tells us that a sigil is an inscribed or painted symbol or occult sign considered to have magic power. It’s an intriguing opener for an entirely captivating story transporting us back, effortlessly, to the Forbidden City of China in 1906. There is great attention to detail, demonstrating the author’s love of both the Canon and world history.

    The tale revolves around an assassination plot and the well-drawn characters of Emperor Ch’ing and his aunt, the Empress Dowager Cixi. The pace is fast throughout, but Tim Symonds is skilful at painting in lots of period features and fascinating facts which add great texture and encourage us to pause and reflect on the strange world our heroes are thrust into. There is also a helpful glossary at the end.

    This is clever pastiche with a strong narrative and well-judged humour. A thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish.

  7. James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief

    An absolute ‘must read’ for the legions of Sherlock Holmes fans, author Tim Symonds has done full justice to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective in “Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Dragon Sigil”.

    While certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library Mystery/Suspense collections, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of dedicated mystery buffs that “Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Dragon Sigil” is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $8.99).

    The full review can be found here:-

  8. Professor Stephen Seifert


    This is a meticulously researched and expertly plotted Holmes & Watson tale. It takes place mostly in an exotic location but feels very familiar in the voice of Dr. Watson and the typical brilliance of Holmes’ unraveling of a deep mystery, and one that may threaten them both. Tim Symonds has captured the authorial voice of Dr. Watson as well as the ambience and attitudes of the era. The descriptions of the arduous overland journey to China as well as the sights, sounds, rituals, and politics of Dynastic China are brilliantly rendered and left me feeling as though I knew a great deal more about that bygone time and place after finishing the story than when I began, something I suspect would apply to many, no matter where on Earth they live. Others have summarized the plot and I will not add to that here. However, at the end of the book is an Epilogue with much additional information on the historical events from which many characters and plot points are drawn, as well as a descriptive glossary, English idioms, obscure words and phrases, and background readings that provide added value to the experience and for which I was quite eager after finishing the tale. Bravo!​

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