Sherlock Holmes and the Dead Boer at Scotney Castle
A Sherlock Holmes Novel by Tim Symonds
Review: Holmes is invited to Scotney Castle to lecture on his methods to the Kipling League, only to be inadvertently drawn into the investigation surrounding a dead body found in a local pond, in Sherlock Holmes and The Dead Boer at Scotney Castle by Tim Symonds.
Originally a reading circle for admirers of Rudyard Kipling's verse and prose, the Kipling Society of 1904 consists of some of England's most powerful men, a private movement propagating Kipling's conservative colonial agenda. (An aside: It's not at all clear why Holmes accepts the invitation, though possibly the "small requital for your trouble", a substantial sum and all expenses, might have had something to do with it.) Holmes and Watson proceed to Sussex, regale their guests with stories of past adventures, and return to town to board their train back to London. But before they can do so, an announcement is made that an unidentified dead man has been found. "I am certain it will prove to be the body of a Boer," Holmes tells Watson. "A Boer? Here in the depths of Sussex?" Watson replies. "Holmes, this goes too far! It is the most absurd …" But Holmes is proved to be correct. The questions that intrigue him, however, are more substantive: Who killed him … and why?
Sherlock Holmes and The Dead Boer at Scotney Castle is largely written in the style and manner of Doyle, something traditionalists may find comforting. Very few liberties have been taken with the characters — though they both seem unusually talkative — and the atmospheric setting is suitably appropriate. What is less favorable, however, is that the book is far, far too long, the rather thin storyline much better suited to a short story than a full-length novel. (Two-thirds of this book could have been edited out with absolutely no loss of continuity.) As a consequence, the narrative moves along ever so slowly. The whole idea that Watson is referring to notes penned years ago when he relates in such incredible, even miniscule, detail what transpired during this adventure is more than a little silly … as, it should be said, is often true of the original Doyle stories as well. Too, it seems completely unnecessary to describe the present tale as one that had never before been published due to … well, despite a preface purporting to explain all this, it isn't all that clear why. It's as if Watson is wildly overreacting to Holmes going behind his back, making much ado about, as Holmes himself might call it, a trifling matter. It actually sets the wrong expectation in the reader's mind, that what they're about to read is going to be something so extraordinary, so different than anything that's ever been published before about Holmes and his adventures, when it's really quite typical of the series. That's not to say Sherlock Holmes and The Dead Boer at Scotney Castle isn't a worthy pastiche — a new Sherlock Holmes story is always welcome — only that this one, its exceptional length notwithstanding, is on par with most of the stories in the canon.
Acknowledgment: MX Publishing provided a copy of Sherlock Holmes and the Dead Boer at Scotney Castle for this review.
Review Copyright © 2012 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Sherlock Holmes and the Dead Boer at Scotney Castle: Sussex, England
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Sherlock Holmes and the Dead Boer at Scotney Castle by Tim Symonds — A Sherlock Holmes Novel
Publisher: MX Publishing
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: March 2012
List Price: $18.95