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Sherlock Holmes & The White Worm
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes– #4
Sam Siciliano

Titan Books
12 February 2016 / ISBN 9781783295555

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde

Sherlock Holmes is not at his best, and his friend Dr. Vernier is worried about him. What he needs is a new case, and when the huge figure of Adam Selton arrives with an unusual problem, the game is once again afoot. Adam has received a mysterious letter warning him that a liaison with Diana Marsh would not be a good idea, due to her family's dark history. Holmes and Vernier travel up to Whitby to check it all out, and find themselves embroiled in an extraordinary situation.

This author has two new twists on the basic Holmes novel. Firstly, the detective has dispensed with Dr. Watson and instead has his cousin Dr. Vernier as his sidekick. Secondly, his stories are inspired by other novels such as The Hound of the Baskervilles, Phantom of the Opera and The Lair of the White Worm. Dr. Vernier narrates in a Watson-like manner and there is a lot in here to entertain, bringing together elements of the truly bizarre with detection, period and local detail and several characters from the existing book. From a reptile-loving temptress to a naïve giant of a man with a problem, add in a madman living in a castle, a folklorist in a tower, strange ceremonies, some murderous threats and, of course, that great white worm. All this is highly entertaining and often rather amusing, but to its detriment, this is a rather long novel which could stand some editing, as it is the type of story which depends on pace to be exciting. Repetition makes it lose momentum, although I was never bored as there is always something going on. Despite being a complete story, readers would get the best out of this novel if they had read the earlier ones, as there are frequent references to former adventures including learning how Dr. Vernier met his Amazonian wife. This book does not feature a lot in the way of mystery as it is fairly obvious what is going on and why, but as a modern try at a Victorian style novel it is quite successful, marrying the bizarre nature of the original with detection, romance, humor and adventure.

Reviewed 2016