THE GLENDOWER CONSPIRACY: A Memoir of Sherlock Holmes by Lloyd Biggle
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THE GLENDOWER CONSPIRACY: A Memoir of Sherlock Holmes

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A humdinger of a book--head and shoulders above all the other Holmesian ""memoirs"" and actually superior to Conan Doyle's output. As in Biggle's charmingly low-key The Quallsford Inheritance (1986), the narrator is Porter Jones, an assistant to the Great Detective, who sends him off to turn-of-the-century wild Wales to discover who murdered Glyn Huws and Lady Eleanor Tromblay. (Lady Eleanor's widower--wealthy and cruel landowner Emetic Tromblay--is now courting Glyn's uninterested daughter.) Porter's sleuthing includes a crash course in Welsh; a midnight sighting of ""The Rebeccas' (marauding men dressed up as women); hours spent attending lectures of the Robert Owen Study League; a surreptitious search for galena; and endless pints of ""cwrw da"" (good beer) while eavesdropping on the locals and bumping into Holmes in disguise (as a wily horse-trader). With elucidating nudges from Holmes, Porter craftily pieces together the clues and solves the two murders, but it is up to Holmes to wrestle with the more elaborate scheme at work here: a conspiracy to get the Welsh out from under English domination and to establish a new Welsh Prince, one with (supposed) genealogical ties to the great Owen Clendower and the fabled Llwelyn the Last. Enthralling study of Welsh superstitions (corpse candles; prognosticating owls), rural life, political brouhahas, Edwardian businesses, music (harps), geography (the Devil's Bridge--all three of them, for instance) and spelling. There's also a dazzling array of clues, as well as lively and believable characters, including the much-beloved Holmes himself. This, the second in Council Oak's ""Brown Bag Mystery Series,"" is a milestone in the historical-mystery genre--and a deep pleasure.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1990
Publisher: Council Oak