James Moriarty (Anthony Andrews) has been sentenced to death by hanging. On the day of his execution a joyous crowd forms to witness the event. Also in the crowd are Jeremy Stubb (Christopher Fairbank), Kasim (Michael Tezcan), Finch (David Sibley) and femme fatale, Sophie DeVere (Kim Thomson). At a signal from Moriarty, his cohorts create a diversion and Moriarty flees. When Sherlock Holmes (Edward Woodward) finds out that Moriarty escaped he is in a rage.

Not long after that Sherlock’s brother Mycroft (Peter Jeffrey) asks Sherlock to find a mole in his office. Mycroft works for British Intelligence and deals with military secrets and corresponds with agents in other countries. Colonel Gould (Warren Clarke) is his chief of security. The leak has resulted in the death of some agents. Sherlock is not interested in politics, only in finding Moriarty, and refuses. Mycroft catches a man breaking into his safe and stealing a coded message. The man escapes. Left behind is Mycroft’s assistant Richard Farrington (Harry Audley). Farrington is in a trance induced state having been hypnotized by Sophie.

When Sherlock finds out that Moriarty may be involved in stealing the government secrets he agrees to investigate. Moriarty may have the message but he doesn’t have code key to decipher it. After having tried every way he can think of to crack the code he decides he needs to kidnap Mycroft and force him to decipher it for him. The kidnapping of Mycroft Holmes sends Sherlock into high gear.

“Hands of a Murderer” was released in 1990 and was directed by Stuart Orme. It is a British made-for-television mystery film with Edward Woodward as Sherlock Holmes and John Hillerman as Dr. John H. Watson.

The movie has been compared to the Basil Rathbone, Sherlock Holmes story “The Woman in Green”. I’m not sure I agree with that. There is Moriarty and there is a woman who hypnotizes people but the rest of the story is very different. As for “Hands of a Murderer”, the actors were good and the plot was interesting. It is standard in format with the battle of wits between Holmes and Moriarty. Adding Mycroft was a nice addition and adding a love interest for Moriarty was an interesting twist. It adds an unusual dynamic in that Moriarty appears more capable of having a relationship with a woman whereas Holmes is not.

Sherlock Holmes is the first role Edward Woodward took on after his time playing the lead in the American television series “The Equalizer”. John Hillerman is known for playing Higgins on the television series “Magnum P.I.”

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