“This book was published posthumously from notes left by the author. Two “chapters” were published during her lifetime in issues of “Canadian Holmes,” [Volume 14, Issues #2 & 4, Wi/1990 & Su/1991]. Chris Redmond is responsible for making the completion of this tale available from her notes.
I have copies of the original publications as well as the more recent, Trade Paperback edition and I re-read the original ”Chapters” as part of this review. Sherlockians must be warned. This is a love story, written by a true “Romantic Soul.” This is also a story that fits well into the Canon. Most of its events precede that historic meeting at “St. Barts” which began the Canon, so Dr. Watson does not appear actively in the events narrated here. The picture presented of Holmes is NOT filtered through the eyes of Dr. Watson, but rather he is presented by the diary entries of a school friend and an associate (superior?) of Mycroft. The Holmes we see is younger and more impressionable than the one we have become accustomed to watching.
This love story presents three couples who are in love (more or less) and who are forbidden by societal standards to express their love. The events presented are the direct results of the frustration imposed on these people by those societal strictures. Ms. Aig was a journalist and, over her years of professional experience, must have seen the effects of such societal pressures acted out in sorrow, violence and misery many times. Her presentation is deft and not overly sentimental, but it is most affecting. Conflicts between society’s expectations and the vagaries of the heart are frustrating, even in retrospect. The waste of time, energy and concern bear little resemblance to the advantages returned to society by conformity to its rules of conduct.
Each of these romances is resolved in the book. “Happily ever after” is not always achieved in real life, so the results will be unsatisfactory for the romance-minded. On the other hand, Sherlock is learning his trade and resolves the various situations presented in as efficient a manner as he can. Murder, heartbreak, frustration and sorrow are often the lot of lovers in the world, especially in the world of Victorian England. Criminals suffer the consequences of their actions, either through judicial punishment, private action or excessive throes of conscience.
In a technical sense, there is very little that needs to be said about this book. It is well-written and well-edited and the story is interesting and believable. The characters are engaging and very well presented and most of the background details are accurate. My only problem is the forms of address used in the tale for the children of a Duke. These are, at the least, odd and they may be improper. In addition, this story is the first telling that I have encountered of a particular Untold Tale. In The Musgrave Ritual, Holmes mentions “… cases … through… old fellow students” of which MUSG was the third. The Lufton Lady is another.”
Sherlock Holmes and The Lufton Lady is available from all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository . In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone).