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The Vanishing Man
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
BY Philip Purser-Hallard

Titan Books
11 June 2019/ ISBN 9781785658426

Reviewed by Rachel Hyde


Successful inventor, Sir Newnham Speight, is chairman of the Society for the Scientific Investigation of Psychical Phenomena, and is keen to prove (or disprove) these mysteries through practical experiments at his home. During one of these experiments, a certain Mr Kellway vanished before the eyes of onlookers and from a locked room. The so-called psychic was attempting to open a box in an adjoining room with his mind using powers from Venus, and if he was successful, would receive a large reward. Enter Sherlock Holmes and Watson to discover what really happened.

I have read quite a few titles in this series and found this one particularly pleasing. Anybody who enjoys reading classic detective fiction will have read quite a few locked room mysteries (the invention of John Dickson Carr) and here is a good one. I did work out how it was done, but it took some time; there are plenty of suspects. Lots of books start well, many manage not to sag in the middle, too, but really good endings are rarer, and this one made me smile as it is rather neat.

There is a good dose of humor in here as we get to know the various members of the club and their various eccentricities. Interleaved between the chapters are tantalising excerpts from various letters and newspapers collected by Holmes to aid his work on the case. These throw light (or are red herrings) in an imaginative way, and this is one tale where everything – however unrelated it may appear – gets sorted out satisfactorily at the end. It is set in 1896, and Holmes is on top enigmatic form with Watson narrating. I do hope that this author writes more of these, I will certainly be looking for his other work if this is a typical sample. Highly recommended.

UK Reviewer: Rachel Hyde's work can be found in The Bead Magazine, Making Jewellery and
Reviewed 2019