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Philip K. Jones reviews Sherlock Holmes and The Murder at the Savoy and other Stories

29 Nov

“This is the second collection of novellas by Mr. Hogan.  The first collection had a basic Japanese theme and this collection carries a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta theme.

The first story, “One Little Maid from School,” tells of a missing schoolgirl with overly protective male relatives who have financial hopes from her inheritance.  The tale goes into the details of how budding debutantes were trained and constrained.  It also gives details of the evasive measures used by those young ladies to exercise some control over their own lives.

The second tale, “Murder at the Savoy,” introduces two murders during performances of “Ruddygore” (later “Ruddigore”) in its initial run.  Holmes is engaged by D’oyly Carte to clear the operetta of the superstitious stigma of “unlucky” or “cursed.”  Even worse, the two murder victims are baronets and the operetta is about two evil baronets, so the producer is in a panic.  Holmes uncovers the murderer and the methods, but justice is cheated.

The third story is “A Scandal in Tite Street” and it opens with Oscar Wilde issuing a dueling challenge to Holmes.  Several princes, including the Prince of Wales and his grandson become involved and the cause of the duel seems to be a packet of letters of which Holmes is unaware.  The duel takes place and honor is defended but nothing is as it seems to Dr. Watson.

The fourth tale is “Trial by Jury” and it opens with Holmes being arrested for the murder of Charles Augustus Millverton.  It ends with Holmes on trial for “Breech of Promise’ to one Miss Agatha Butterworth(?) , the maid of Mr. Millverton.  Holmes chooses to act in his own defense and refuses to engage a barrister.  His defense is odd, to say the least.

The final tale is “The Moving Finger Writes” and it involves high jinks at Buckingham Palace.  The Queen is getting messages from the deceased Prince Consort and from her deceased gillie, John Brown.  In addition, one of Moriarty’s minions is planning a “heist” that may involve the Palace.  The Palace servants are split into factions who are just short of openly at war and Palace management are on their way to mental and physical breakdowns.

This book is well-edited and the mysteries are all complex and puzzling.  There are a few anachronisms, but those are hard to avoid for 21st Century writers.  The presentation of various Gilbert and Sullivan operetta throughout the entire book adds a definite charm to the volume. The stories are not so dark as those in his earlier collection, but not all outcomes are happy or emotionally satisfying.  On the other hand, neither is reality.”

Sherlock Holmes and The Murder at the Savoy and other Stories is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository .

murder at the savoy

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