Tuesday, November 11, 2014

 THE BOOK IS HOT “OFF THE PRESSES” and here’s the first serious review: Sherlockian Expert offers great review for Sherlock Holmes – The Golden Years

Philip Jones is familiar to most fans of Sherlock Holmes as he has over 100 reviews of Sherlock Holmes books on Amazon and maintains probably the most complete Sherlock Holmes database on www.sherlockian.net and other websites. His review of Sherlock Holmes – The Golden Years appears below in its entirety:

Review:The description on the back of this book caused me to worry that I was in for a set of tales steeped in the supernatural, but all such fears were put to rest by the first story.  Eventually, all five proved to be based firmly in reality, with only a few nods at another orientation in the final tale.  This collection of five novellas is one of the finest sets of Sherlockian fiction I have seen.  The author has a good grasp of Nineteenth Century British politics and thought and each of the tales looks at seldom seen sides of that world.  The author also plans to continue this set of tales in future.

“The Bonnie Bag of Bones” introduces Adaline Dart who is involved in the disappearance of one Godfrey Norton.  The narrative progresses, bringing in more of her family, as time goes on.  An explanation for the existence of the “Grey Man,” who is suspected of the murder is also presented.

In “The Curse of the Black Feather” we meet the primary villain in this series of tales, the man who wears the black feather.  This mystery begins with a request by G. K. Chesterton to investigate events that occurred following the birth of an illegitimate daughter to a former servant of his.  It also pits Sherlock against his brother, Mycroft and the rest of the “Intelligence” establishment.

The third novelette, “The Maestro of Mysteries” continues the investigation began in “Black Feather.”  This leads into a dark underground realm in London, to the “Society of the Golden dawn” and to international complications. Part of this tale illustrates the author’s understanding of the Government of the Empire’s attitude toward the rest of the world and some of the consequences of that attitude.

“The Cure that Kills” details the hunt for the perpetrator of the previous two tales and the clash between Holmes and the Pinkerton agents hired to help his search.  Among other things, it takes place mostly in Battle Creek, Michigan, for quite reasonable causes.

The final tale, “The Kongo Nkisi Spirit Train,” takes Holmes and Watson to Africa.  Native magic is holding up completion of the Cape to Cairo railway and Holmes is needed to put it back on track before the coming War demands its use.  Some events occur in this tale for which explanations are not provided.

These five tales are rich in details.  Many historical characters are portrayed, some with no more explanation than a name.  As an example, look up Irene’s son-in-law.  He was born in 1893 and he died in 1988 and I’ve read at least one of his books.  Many of the characters will reward further studies.  While these tales do not use Dr. Watson in the same fashion as do most of the Canonical tales, they approach Doyle’s methods in many ways.  Doyle used Dr. Watson for specific reasons and in particular ways in all but six of the tales.  This author comes close, but is more generous to “the Good Doctor.


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