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Philip K. Jones reviews The Untold Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

30 Oct

“This collection includes seven novellas drawn from a variety of times during Holmes’ career.  The letter by Dr. Watson that precedes the stories explains that these tales were not told earlier for a variety of reasons but mostly to prevent further harm to the victims.  There seems to be no common thread or theme among the tales included.

‘The Adventure of the Poisoned Affair’ tells of Holmes’ involvement, at the request of the new widow, in the investigation of an apparent suicide by poison.  Anomalies at the scene convince Holmes that the ‘suicide’ is actually a murder.  ‘The Adventure of the Yellow Handkerchief’ leads Holmes and Watson into the world of Thuggee.  Inspector Lestrade asks Holmes to help with a series of murders that are otherwise unrelated except for yellow handkerchiefs left at the scenes.  The story also presents a selection of other potential clients and their problems.

‘The Adventure of the Haunted Hotel’ presents a mystery with its roots firmly placed in the past.  Holmes and Watson are faced with hatreds and superstitions based on a pirate raid carried out at the beginning of the Eighteenth Century.  The solution requires drastic action and careful planning.  ‘The Adventure of the Acquitted Client’ details a well-organized and executed scam based on common legal practice in Victorian England.  Again, the solution calls for a great deal of planning and active detective work.

‘The Adventure of St. Mary’s Murder’ has Holmes called in to help the local police on another series of murders.  Attractive young women are being murdered and left in churches in the Manchester area.  There seems to be no connection except the youth and attractiveness of the victims.  Holmes and Watson manage to identify and trap the monster responsible, along with evidence to convict for multiple murders.  ‘The Adventure of the Diamond Jubilee’ has Inspector Lestrade seeking Holmes’ help in dealing with an apparent threat by Muslim extremists against the Queen at Her Diamond Jubilee.  A resurrected Moriarty seems to be at the base of this problem and Holmes must persuade the Queen to accept his advice and control of events in order to ensure Her safety.

The final story, ‘The Solved Problem’, rewrites some elements of ‘The Empty House’ and reveals the details of the death of Mary Morstan Watson.  In addition, the elements of the renewed Moriarty presence mentioned in earlier stories is explained and examined.  Many elements of this tale are quite personal and painful for Watson and telling it is difficult and revealing.

This book was fairly well edited.  I found only a couple of spelling errors, but there were a number of homonym errors.  For example, writing ‘past’ for ‘passed’ and visa-versa occurred several times, along with various, similar errors.  There were also odd errors in subject/predicate agreement and a few other such problems.  Another problem for Sherlockians is the difference between these tales and those from the Canon.  I cannot put my finger on the stylistic details, for Watson is kept thoroughly in the dark by Holmes, but the difference is one of taste and viewpoint, so don’t look for new Canonical tales.  On the other hand, these are interesting and puzzling mysteries and the author worked to recreate the world of The Canon.”

The Untold Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores including in the USA Barnes and Noble and Amazon , in the UK Amazon and Waterstones and fans outside US and UK can get free delivery from Book Depository. In ebook format it is in KindleiTunesKobo and Nook.

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