🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
I was recommended to read this book by a fellow Amazon reviewer after I suggested that, in The House of Silk, Anthony Horowitz had caught the most authentic Watsonian voice of all the pastiches I had read. Having now read it, I agree that this book, although not in fact narrated by Watson, catches the tone of the original canon very well.
A blending of the Holmes and Fu Manchu worlds, we see Holmes called in to help Dr Petrie track down his missing friend Nayland Smith, presumably abducted by the fiendish Fu Manchu for purposes unknown. Although Fu Manchu does make an appearance, as does Watson briefly, the book mainly follows Holmes and Petrie as they hunt down their adversary through the wilds of Wales. Petrie’s observations of the great man at work are slightly more critical than those of the ever-faithful Watson, but he comes to admire him just as much.
The characterisation is excellent as are the descriptive passages, particularly of the Welsh landscape and people. There are some excellent action sequences, such as when Holmes and Petrie are in danger of being trapped in an abandoned mine, and the climax is suitably thrilling. However I did feel the book dragged in places where for long periods of time nothing much really happened. Also being more of an action thriller rather than a mystery novel, there weren’t many opportunities for Holmes to use his brilliant deductive skills. The semi-naked dancing and slave girls(!) jarred as out of place in a Holmes story, but I assume this is a carry-over from the Fu Manchu novels, which I haven’t read (nor indeed did this book inspire me to remedy that).
Overall though, this is a very strong entry in the world of Holmes’ pastiches – a shame that it’s out of print, but if you can get hold of a used copy, then recommended. I’m still looking for one that gets Watson’s voice, the plotting, the fine writing and crucially the Holmes/Watson relationship just right though (and with NO love interest or female assistants for Holmes!). Any suggestions?