THE HOLMES AFFAIR
Written by Graham Moore
Review written by Keith Miles
Keith Miles is probably best recognised by readers under the pen name of Edward Marston. He writes several well-received historical mysteries spanning the 11th century through to the 19th century. His website is www.edwardmarston.com
Released: 6th January 2011
This novel is a must for Sherlockians. At a meeting of the Baker Street Irregulars in New York, Alex Cale is going to reveal the contents of a long-lost part of Arthur Conan Doyle's diaries. He is murdered before he can do so and that nature of his death contains clues that are meaningless to all but Sherlockian scholars.
Harold White is engaged to solve the crime and find the missing diary. He sets off for London. In a parallel story, Conan Doyle commits murder by killing off Sherlock Holmes and turning his literary talents in other directions. We pick him up in 1900 when he gets embroiled in a real-life series of killings with Bram Stoker, theatrical impresario and author of Dracula, as his Watson.
Moving from past to present and back again, the novel is steeped in Sherlockiana and the two stories complement each other. To the general reader, however, the arcane detail will be confusing. The story featuring Conan Doyle is more interesting than its modern-day equivalent which runs out of steam before the end. There are some grating Americanisms. For instance, to get a pun on the name of Millicent Fawcett, founder of the National Union of Women's Suffrage, we are shown a 'faucet' in a Victorian London that would have called it a 'tap'. The author pays tribute to a book on the Women's Suffrage Campaign as a 'fantastic resource' yet, in calling one of the murder victims Emily Davison, he seems to have forgotten that this infamous suffragette committed suicide by flinging herself beneath the hooves of the King's horse at the Derby.
The Holmes Affair, then, is a treasure trove for insiders but considerably less satisfying for those who do no not speak fluent Sherlockiana.