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Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, Volume 4 Paperback – January 19, 2013
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This particular book, simply stated, is marvelous. Often when a compilation of stories from different writers, the quality will vary from story to story and, given different people wrote them, this is not only understandable but expected. This particular volume is an exception. These stories are all smokers. After finishing the book, my reaction was a heartfelt WOW!. The quality goes deeper. Each of the writers has managed to catch the nuances and subtleties Conan Doyle included in his original stories. Often that means some polish is lacking and the narrative may get a bit stilted but that keeps them real.
I only recently became acquainted with Airship Publications. They are advertised as 'Pulp Fiction.' Take it from me, the writing quality is far above what you would expect when the term 'Pulp fiction' is raised. I mean, these people know what they are doing. I'm currently on Volume V and will double back and review the other ones shortly. This particular book I have placed into my category of books that were so good that I hated seeing that I was running out of pages. Whenever I see another edition, it will be simply go directly to shopping cart. Don't even read the review.
Holmes and Watson are back for five more exciting adventures from Airship 27!
First out of the gate is a story by IA Watson: “The Adventure of the Clockwork Courtesan.”
A wealthy man with a taste for clockwork automatons has purchased a new one, The Vienna Clockwork. A simulacrum of a courtesan, the mechanical lady plays a harp and a small bird moves along a rod. But the clockwork is stolen.
Finding the thieves only deepens the mystery, as now the rich man is dead, apparently by the courtesan’s metal fan. In a story where nothing is quite what it seems, the reader is lead through a tangled web to truth behind the whole mess, with a bit of blurred fact at the end. Excellent!
Moving along, the reader next dives into “The Problem of the Coincidental Glance,” by Aaron Smith.
The entire case starts with something Sherlock Holmes has seen when he just happens to be at the window of 221B. He rushes out without speaking, and later returns to give Watson his sailing orders. What did Holmes see that sent him charging out of his own flat?
This story does have an interesting twist, but I find it the weakest in this round of stories, maybe two and a half out of five at best.
Third in this volume is “The Adventure of the Black Katana” by Bradley H Sinor.
A friend and colleague of Doctor Watson comes to 221B with a problem. A rare sword, a two hundred year old katana made by master sword-smith Hiraru Takei has been stolen from Doctor Black’s house. The trail of the katana leads through blood and carnage as the thief turns murderer, and Doctor Black finds himself and his household targets for a man with smoldering hatred in his soul.
The story is well thought out and rather well written. It has its rough patches, but is worth a solid four out of five. Incidentally, I wonder if the reader has caught the significance of the sword-master’s name? Nice move, Mr. Sinor!
The next story in line is “the Affair of the Anonymous Heiress” by William Thinnes.
A young woman arrives at 221B with a tale of woe concerning her father, who is apparently on his deathbed. Strange thing have being happening in the household, and a faithful servant has died from what seems to be poison, a cryptic utterance his dying words.
Holmes must sort through the web of evidence to trap the mastermind behind it all. A great twist ending, and a wonderful story, which I think the best in this volume.
The last tale is “The Adventure of the Limehouse Werewolf” by Andrew Salmon.
London police officers are being killed in such a way as to suggest a werewolf may have murdered them. On the bodies of each of the murdered men a valuable oriental curio has been found. Each is also marked with identical tattoos, having served in the merchant marine prior to their career as policemen.
Despite the description of a witness, Holmes is certain that the “werewolf” is not supernatural. Or is it? What did the policemen do to anger this killer? The twist ending to this story gives it a tie as best in the volume with the previous story. A very worthy addition to the world of Sherlock Holmes.
The volume as a whole remains at five out of five, the last two stories making up for the weak second tale.
Quoth the Raven…
This volume has 5 new SH stories, plus a brief essay.
One story dealt with a Japanese sword, another with a strange clockwork automaton that apparently killed its owner. Another story dealt with revenge and the slave trade, and another about a bizarre plot to replace an heiress. I thought it interesting that 3 of the 5 stories dealt with government matters and had Sherlock's brother Mycroft present. One story dealt with the murder of policeman, something the original ones never had. Overall, a great set of stories.
There are a few minor 'issues' I should point out. I was a little disappointed that the "Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective" logo that graced the first 3 volumes was dropped for the new logo based on the SH novel. But I've been told that the old logo was hard to read with the thumbprint size artwork on places like Amazon, so it had to go. Sorry to see that happen. Also, I had liked the fact that Airship 27 replaced their more modern logo with an old-style airship on the previous volumes and sorry they didn't continue with that.
That said, I look forward to seeing further volumes, both new volumes of "Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective" as well as solo Dr. Watson collections (of which they've done 2 so far).