Top critical review
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Mixed quality-- But some excellent stories can be found.
on September 5, 1999
I purchased this book in part on the strength of three 5-star reviews on this site. This is a very handsome hardcover volume at a surprisingly reasonable price.
There are three classifications of stories in the book. First, stories primarily written by Adrian Conan Doyle, with some input from JD Carr. Second, two stories written almost entirely by Mr. Carr, possibly with some slight input from Doyle. Third, six stories written solely by Mr. Adrian Doyle.
Since I have read a number of mysteries by Carr, and expected much, I was most disappointed to find his two stories the weakest in the book. In one instance, after reading the first page I was able to anticipate the entire plot. In the other case, I simply found the story flat, uninteresting, and narrowly derivative of similar stories in the original Holmes canon.
To the contrary, some of the stories by Mr. Doyle cannot be praised enough. One that's typical, "The Adventure of Foulkes Rath," seems up to the work of Arthur Conan Doyle himself. All in all, Adrian Doyle admirably captures the style and brooding Gothic tone that so typifies many of the best stories in the original Holmes canon. Moreover, Adrian Doyle's stories have a kind of life and warmth that brings the Edwardian world alive for the reader.
I would give the book five stars were it not for a few tales that seem off the pace, and decidedly inferior to the others. Alas-- and surprisingly-- these are from JD Carr's pen. Perhaps Carr tried too diligently to write an impeccably logical mystery, where nothing in the denoument was not well provided for in the early story. The effect, unfortunately, was to create a mechanical kind of plot, which made it all to easy for the reader to anticipate too accurately the entire unfolding of the story.
So in this interesting and generally worthwhile book of tales, we might have the amateur outwriting the old master.
All in all, a worthwhile purchase -- and handsome book with great bedtime reading at a very reasonable price.