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Philip K. Jones reviews The Detective The Woman and The Silent Hive by Amy Thomas

24 Mar

“This is the third novel by this author about Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler.  As these novels come out, readers find themselves travelling a strange pathway.  Both Sherlock and Irene have developed defenses against caring about others.  Their reasons are different, but their actions are similar.  Both are self-reliant loners who suppress their feelings of care and concern for others lest they be trapped into allowing others to distract them from their own immediate concerns.

This novel opens with Irene arriving at 221B Baker Street to inform Sherlock that her bee hives have all died.  At this time, Irene is the Apiarist and Sherlock is an occasional visitor and interested observer of the process of tending hives.  Dr. Watson is again in residence at Baker Street following the death of his wife (1903 edition, #2 or #3?) and Mrs. Hudson is keeping house for both of them.  Mrs. Turner is housekeeper for Irene at her house on the Downs.  The good Doctor has been a regular visitor to her there and seems to be courting Mrs. Turner while Mrs. Hudson is thinking of selling her town properties and retiring to the country.

The death of Irene’s bees is accepted by Sherlock as a case, since they were killed by a disease with no likely source near her farm.  Initial investigations lead Sherlock to recognize a malevolent influence seemingly centered on himself, but affecting those around him.  The mystery proceeds in fine fashion, but it actually plays out as the beginning of a true friendship between Sherlock and Irene.  The steps in this friendship are careful and slow, but they begin with finding that both of them care for the wellbeing of others.  As these revelations come, they begin to care for each other’s welfare and realize that they are giving up some of their own freedom of action to do so.

The mystery gives way a piece at a time as the source of the dark influence reveals itself.  Innocent parties are killed or harmed and the detective pair find that they are not free to treat all as merely a problem to be solved, but rather that they feel guilt and remorse for exposing friends and colleagues to this evil.  A dark period in Sherlock’s past has generated the hatred that pursues all he cares about and its source must be identified and prevented from doing further harm.  In the meantime, both Irene and Sherlock must learn to open their hearts to others who suffer from association with them.  This process is the theme of the novel and it is well-presented and convincingly handled.

There is no need to say that the explanations and outcomes are all unexpected.  As in her earlier novels, the author has written alternate chapters from the viewpoints of Irene and then of Sherlock.  This practice presents the reader with a more sympathetic view of the two protagonists and it reveals their inner fears and concerns in an indirect fashion.  It is perhaps, the best novel yet in this series.  As ever, the author underplays the emotional content and concentrates lovingly on the facts.”

The Detective The Woman and The Silent Hive is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository . In ebook format it is in Amazon KindleKoboNook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone).

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