Murder Rooms Series
Arrow (Random House UK) - October 2001
ISBN 0099416581 - Paperback
Historical Mystery - 1883, Edinburgh & South Coast of England

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde,
Buy a US Copy || Buy a UK Copy

If you are a fan of the Sherlock Holmes stories you will find something of a treat in store here. Written to coincide with BBC TV's recent and popular series of the same name here is the novelization of the first (and by far the strongest) of four stories. They all feature the young Arthur Conan Doyle when he had just started practising as a doctor and was working with Dr Joseph Bell, the model for Sherlock Holmes. As far as we know he didn't truly solve cases in tandem with him a la Watson but suppose he had done…and this is the premise of both the TV series and this book.

Newly qualified Doyle is faced with beautiful young Heather Grace, who complains of both eye trouble and the fact that she is being followed by a phantom cyclist, draped in black. Soon he is also faced with the murder of Spanish businessman Senor Garcia and calls upon his friend and mentor Dr Bell for help. Events follow thick and fast as he learns of Heather's past life and its terrible bloody secrets, her suitor whom she doesn't appear to love and her guardians who might have something to hide. Doyle also has to face tragedy in his own life as his father is going insane and fight his attraction to his compelling patient.

Sherlock Holmes pastiches aren't rare but good ones are less common and this has the double advantage of not actually featuring Holmes but a more original twist on this old theme and being a genuinely good story. Even if you have seen the TV version there is a lot in this suspenseful novel that isn't there, all written up rather in the same style as Watson employed to tell of his cases and part of the fun lies in spotting the inspirations behind the various characters and stories in the Holmes canon. So here is a double recommendation - watch it if it comes to a TV near you if you haven't already had the chance to and read this book. I certainly didn't even being to guess it all and it is, like all the best Victorian whodunits, a jolly good tale for a chill winter's evening.

© MyShelf.Com. All Rights Reserved