usually buy new Holmes books expecting to be either
greatly or at least somewhat disappointed. Not many
measure up to
the originals by the master, A. Conan Doyle. Some are
just average detective stories with the name Sherlock
Holmes spliced into it. Not even the series of short
tales written years back by Doyle's son and John Dickson
Carr approached the originals in style and tone. They
were interesting mysteries yes, but not true Sherlockian
tales. I was happily pleased therefore to find that
Carraher's book captures the "true" Sherlock
Holmes. I could almost believe it was the "real"
John Watson himself who wrote it.
For the first time we learn that Holmes, during the
time he was "missing" (in hiding) from the
threat of death from Moriarty's men, made his way to
New York City, and took up residence under the name
of Simon Hawkes in a men's-only club in lower Manhattan
called "The Dead Rabbits Society". While there,
of course, he continued to exercise his amazing deductive
abilities to solve crimes.
Here he is approached by Franklin Dunmore, a small bookworm
of a man, who tells him he has been attacked twice.
Much to the reclusive Dunmore's amazement, he has an
enemy! Someone is trying to kill him! Holmes a.k.a.
Hawkes decides to investigate and is thereby thrown
into the midst of a cunning murder plot in which nothing
is quite what it seems. The crime is solved eventually
by Holmes through the powers of his deductive reasoning,
as all Holmes mysteries should be solved. The police,
of course, were off on the wrong track totally. Even
New York, it seems, had its share of inept Inspector
Carraher gets the "feel" of 1890's New York
City right, and offers us, in addition to a fine mystery,
interesting written "snapshots" of what the
city and society was like then. A time when poor people
died of disease in crowded tenements and a time when
women still fought for the right to vote. More important,
Carraher gets close to the Doyle style of writing. Readers
of the Sherlock Holmes tales as written by Doyle might
be impressed with how much the writing here is reminiscent
of the originals.
The ending is unique, to my knowledge, in Holmes stories,
and I can't give it away, but I found it consistent
with the Holmes' character as defined by Doyle. This
is a really good book.