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Philip K Jones Reviews The Case of The Russian Chessboard a Sherlock Holmes Mystery

24 Sep

Philip K Jones (aka The Ill Dressed Vagabond) is one of the USA’s most respected Holmes reviewers and maintains a huge database of Holmes pastiches and fiction.

Here is his review of The Case of The Russian Chessboard;

“This is a short novel set in the late 19th Century in London.  Holmes and Watson are drawn into an investigation of Russian revolutionaries plotting and recruiting among London’s Liberals.  It brings them into the world of plot and counterplot, agent and counteragent that set the standards for 20th Century Social Commentary.  The Emigrés and the Okhrana define the moves and relations followed by all the various Patriots vs. Secret Police From the October Revolution through the careers of Pol Pot and Idi Amin.  This dance began during the Reign of Peter the Great and, in 200 years, the participants learned their roles well.  Their examples through the Russian Revolution trained another hundred years of artists of abominations.

This is Sherlock Holmes working on a World stage, with despair and misery playing the tune and ambition calling the moves.  It is a dark and unpleasant tale, with few triumphs and little to cheer about.  Holmes makes no brilliant deductions and no knighthood is awaiting him in The Service of the Crown.   The lessons are all bloody and terrible and the victims are pitiful and miserable.  How sadly and typically Russian!  The truly sad thing about this story is that could well have been true.

Holmes accepts a plea from a gentlewoman to help her sister who has become enmeshed in a nihilist organization’s plot.  As part of the investigation, Holmes visits an old acquaintance living on a pacifist commune in rural Essex.  He and Watson are also offered work in St. Petersburg by the London head of the Okhrana and witness the murder of a revolutionary hero in Regent’s Park. Untangling the ins and outs of the matter is a commentary on the methods used by both sides and the struggles to be faced in the dawning Century.

The editing is quite good with only one or two errors apparent.  The writing is dark and the mystery is, unfortunately, fairly easy to penetrate.  The most depressing thing about the book is how true it is to life and the times”.

The Case of the Russian Chessboard is now out in paperback on Amazon USA, Amazon UK, and through all good bookstores. The book is also available on Amazon Kindle and all other ebook formats.

 

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