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Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Boer Wagon Paperback – October 24, 2012
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Canonically, this takes place prior to SIXN. Historically, this takes place in 1900, when Lord Roberts was in command at the close of the second phase of the Boer War.
Watson is invited by his literary agent Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle to join a hospital unit headed to South Africa to serve the English troops battling the Boers. Watson is desired both as an experienced war surgeon and for his military man who can comfortably liaison between the army and the doctors of the field hospital.
Meanwhile, Holmes and Watson are summoned by Mycroft. There is a leak somewhere along the line of command. The Boers seem to know not only how many men for which to prepare, but also the direction and timing of the attack.
Holmes will go to South Africa as Escott, a reporter for the London Times. As Watson already has a cover story, he can go ahead with his own plans. The problem is that this traitor could be almost anyone, in the camp, in the field hospital, in the supply lines, etc.
Holmes and Watson run into many colorful characters in their pursuit of the mole in the army. Perhaps no one is more colorful than a Lieutenant Winston Churchill…
The novel builds nicely at a steady even pace. Some twists are hinted at beforehand, but others come as a total surprise. The historical part of this novel gives a grim insight into the daily grind of the Boer war. There is the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. There is the mad scramble for supplies in unfamiliar territory, where even the water supply has been cut off from the camp. There is the battle with Enteric Fever, which is killing more men than the battle itself…
It also delves into the cause and effect of the Boer War. Names like Cecil Rhodes and Lord Kitchner are brought up in passing. Gold and diamonds are discussed, epically as there is a lot of gold missing…
I find the history fascinating and the mystery intriguing! I give the book five stars!
Quoth the Raven…