“I don’t give a 5-star review lightly, but this book deserves one for its sheer ability to delight me with its masterful storytelling.
The new collaborative novel by two seasoned Sherlock Holmes novelists is a rare type of book for me to review, since it does not directly star Sherlock Holmes. Instead, the world’s greatest detective has a prominent supporting role in an entertaining 1920s mystery that also includes TS Eliot, WB Yeats, and several other historical characters.
The Amateur Executioner is the kind of book that can be enjoyed on several levels. Those who want an exciting, fast-moving, and action-filled mystery will appreciate its pace and wit, while those who are more interested in the Sherlock Holmes element will also find many subtle and clever references to the Doyle canon. Unexpectedly, there’s also a lot to love for those who appreciate classic literature and the writers of the early 20th century.
Having read other work by both Andriacco and McMullen, I wouldn’t necessarily have expected the two to collaborate. I hesitate to label them too strictly, but Andriacco’s style generally reads, to my ear, like Dashiell Hammett-style detective narrative, while McMullen is more traditionally Victorian and imitative of Doyle in his pastiches. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the two coalesced throughout the book. I don’t know what the division of writing was, but the voice of the American protagonist, Enoch Hale, strikes me as predominately Andriacco’s, while the historical atmosphere and several of the other voices seem to belong more to McMullen.
Above all, the novel is enjoyable. It’s a quick read that can be digested in a few sittings, and the ending leaves the reader hoping for more. Andriacco and McMullen have done a masterful job of blending history, fiction, and Sherlock Holmes in a way that entices and delights. I suppose the question is, does Holmes belong to the fiction or to the history? The authors of The Amateur Executioner will make you believe he’s absolutely real”
Amy Thomas, The Baker Street Babes