GRAVES GATE by Dennis Burges


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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hires an American reporter to get to the bottom of a mystery.

The aging world-famous author, whose public search for ways to contact the dead has made him a figure of fun, seems himself to have been contacted by someone on the other side. The late Dr. Bernard Gussmann, a brilliant Austrian shrink who treated Conan Doyle’s demented father, has sent the writer an unsigned letter containing information that he and Sir Arthur alone could have known. The letter promises proof of communication with the dead if Sir Arthur will bring one of three people into the presence of a woman in prison and about to be hanged. Unable to do his own legwork for fear of public exposure and ridicule, Sir Arthur asks AP reporter Charles Baker, who knew Conan Doyle’s son from the Great War, to be his detective. Baker detests spiritualism, but he greatly admires the writer and knows that it is grief for the loss of his son that has pushed him into the world of séances and automatic writing, so he agrees to look into the matter. He is joined by another friend of Conan Doyle’s, beautiful Adrianna Wallace, wife of convenience of a heroic but closeted gay MP. Rich restless Adrianna knows that she can open doors for the unconnected American. And even though she was put off sex by the horrors she saw as a nurse in the war, and even though she is totally loyal to her husband Freddy, she does enjoy spending time with the nice Yank. Adrianna and Charles establish that all the people named in the letter had connections to the west London asylum where Dr. Gussmann plied his trade. They find further that all of them suffer from blackouts and murderous mood swings. Is Gussmann controlling them from the grave?

Newcomer Burges offers fine Conan Doyle atmosphere and plotting without the old gasbag in the deerstalker hat.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-7867-1202-3
Page count: 432pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2003