“I’ve been collecting pastiches for a long time – 41 years now – and I always want more. Give me traditional stories – none of this Alternate Universe stuff. Set it in the correct time period. Holmes should be a hero, not a broken mess or a murderer, and Watson shouldn’t be an idiot or a caretaker or someone just there to give a comical double-take.
From the first time that I discovered Denis Smith’s stories, in the form of individually published chapbooks in the 1990’s, I knew that he was the real deal. This was someone that had found one of Watson’s Tin Dispatch Boxes – and surely Watson hid a bunch of them all over the place! – and Mr. Smith was presenting the stories for publication the way Watson intended, without grafting on his own agendas, turning Holmes in to some objectionable sociopath, or a slob, or an addict. This was Holmes the way he was in the original Canon, and the way he should be now.
I collected Mr. Smith’s other Holmes narratives as they appeared over the years – in collections from Calabash Press and in Sherlock Magazine and The Strand, and later a couple of really fine omnibus editions. And now he brings us the first book-length adventure that he’s edited from Watson’s notes, once again living up to his own very high standards.
This story starts in fine form – a client visits Baker Street and tells his strange tale. Things progress to Foxwood Grange, where strange things have been occurring. We – through Watson’s eyes – meet the neighbors and get to walk the countryside, getting to know our surroundings. In addition to the immediate crimes, we are shown an ancient puzzle. Suddenly events tumble toward the fascinating conclusion, and we realize that, in a masterful performance, we had the clues right there in front of us all along, but it took Sherlock Holmes to figure it out.
Once again Mr. Smith presents a tour de force, and I cannot wait to read his next effort.”
Reviewed by David Marcum