Drugged, manacled, condemned to a dank cell in the depths of London's infamous Newgate prison, the world's greatest literary detective awaits execution by a vengeful crew of formidable enemies. Escape is impossible; death, a certainty. But not for Sherlock Holmes, who, in a stunning display of intellect and derring-do, will elude his hangman's noose and live to fiddle, spy, and ratiocinate another day. Against tremendous odds Holmes will continue to defy his enemies in four more encounters, from cracking German intelligence codes, to going against Scotland Yard and the Crown in proving the innocence of a man condemned to death for the slaying of a pregnant serving girl, to an arsenic-wielding magician, and of course, to a battle of wits with the malevolent Moriarty. Everywhere in these five finely wrought tales, riddles and mystery hover in the air. But they are not beyond the grasp of the incomparable Sherlock Holmes.
©2007 Donald Thomas. All rights reserved. (P)2011 AudioGo
In addition to reading all the original Holmes stories, I've read and/or listened to many by more contemporary authors. Few really capture the spirit of Holmes and Watson. I've listened to this title and Donald Thomas' "Ghosts of Bly" and I think these capture the feel better than many. However, the author - because he is writing of events a hundred years in his past - has taken to tie Holmes' activities into actual historical events. Sometimes this becomes interesting, but sometimes it just seems to be done in an attempt to help set the scene of the story, and rarely does it assist in that regard. For example, mentioning the songs heard on the street below 221B Baker Street seemed to say to me, "Look, I did my research" more than it helped to settle the time and place in my mind.
On the other hand, the plots are reasonably interesting and, with the exception of one of the stories, seem to employ the famous Holmes deductive reasoning and encyclopedic knowledge to good effect. The performance is solid, and Mr Telfer's accents seem genuine to this American from the Midwest!
This book contains five longish short stories, the first of which is pretty good, the remainder vary from mediocre to tediously poor. To his credit, the author has spent a good amount of time studying the Victorian era, but at several times he goes into long boring displays of this study, like an 8 year old explaining his Pokeman deck to an uninterested adult.
The author does a double dose of Holmsian name-dropping, enough to make it a drinking game if you wish. On the other hand, Thomas seems to have a poor grasp of Doyle's classic characters:
Holmes is more waspish and insulting than I would prefer, but falls within a reasonable continuum of interpretation. Audible has an excellent three volume Holmes set in which Charles Griffin does a much more acerbic interpretation of Holmes, using Doyle's own words.
Watson gets significantly poorer treatment. While Doyle's Watson often shows frustration with his gifted friend, Thomas's Watson whines continuously, ignores instructions, and seems more angry with Holmes than loyal to him.
The poorest treatment, however, is reserved for Mycroft Holmes. Thomas should have created a third Holmes brother if he was going to create a completely new character. Doyle gives Holmes an older brother who is Sherlock's intellectual equal, but too lethargic to do his own legwork; a man who at times "is the British Government" and is deeply involved in the intelligence community. Thomas gives us a whiny, petty functionary, who is worries about Sherlock embarrassing the family and has the brains of a newt.
In the end, to paraphrase Monty Python, this is not a book for reading, this is a book for standing back and avoiding.
I'm a bear that likes honey, climbing trees, stealing picnic baskets and listening to audiobooks.
I thought the detailed plotting and authentic use of Conan Doyle's characters made this book good.
Dust and Shadows or the House of Silk --> two other Holmes stories written by contemporary mystery writers.
Some of the stories are better than others, but overall I found this an enjoyable read.
Sir Arthur would be proud and pleased that modern writers do a better job than he did with the Holmes canon. Clearly he has given his readers both roots and wings.
"Starts strong and then peters out"
Starts off with the amazingly detailed and tense story, which is well worth a listen on its own. The remaining stories are a bit more run-of-the-mill.
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