It is fitting that for this centenary of the first Sherlock Holmes story, top Sherlockian Hardwick (Sherlock Holmes: My Life...



It is fitting that for this centenary of the first Sherlock Holmes story, top Sherlockian Hardwick (Sherlock Holmes: My Life and Crimes, 1984) has written the most authentic and convincing post-Conan Doyle Holmes adventure to date: an energetic, atmospheric semi-sequel (authorized by the Conan Doyle estate) to The Hound of Baskervilles. Hardwick displays none of the revisionism of much recent Sherlockiana as in Nicholas Meyer's The Seven Percent Solution. Hardwick's is hard-core Holmes, beginning with the opening scene--narrated by Watson, natch--in the chambers at 221B, where a peevish Holmes uses both deduction and bullying to learn that Watson is soon to be remarried. Holmes' anger at this incipient interruption in his domestic routine is diverted by the breathless appearance of Inspector Lestrade: ""the footprints of an enormous hound"" have been found near a tramp mauled on Hampstead Heath. Off go the three to investigate what turns out to be only one of four mysteries--the stolen skeleton of Oliver Cromwell, a shipboard murder, and a letter compromising the King figure in as well: all fragments of an underlying conspiracy to overthrow the English monarchy. Hardwick dates his tale in 1902, after Holmes' slaying of Moriarity, so the ""Napoleon of Crime"" is unavailable to lead the plot against the throne; but a paranoid nobleman makes a suitable, if minor-league, villain, and most other Sherlockian stars--brother Mycroft, Mrs. Hudson, etc.--put in solid appearances (although the two female leads--Watson's fiancee and a liberated American--remain more shadow than substance). Add to that generous saltings of deductive reasoning, steady pacing brisked up by hot acttion, a happy ending, and, most importantly, Hardwick's impeccable re-creation of the tone of the originals--and the result is: Not at all elementary. Actually, rather subtle and complex--and quite satisfying entertainment for Sherlockians and newcomers alike.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1987


Page Count: -

Publisher: Villard/Random House

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1987