Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Seventh Bullet: Review

Sherlock Holmes has been retired to the countryside for quite some time--content to spend his time with his bees at his cottage in Sussex. His old friend and companion, Dr. Watson still has a practice in London, but he has been winding it down with a view to retirement himself. Not much excitement--certainly nothing like the days when the two shared lodgings in Baker Street. But then one blustery March afternoon, a woman dressed all in black appears in Watson's waiting room...not because she is ill, but because she wants him to convince Sherlock Holmes to come out of retirement to find the mastermind behind her brother's murder.

Mrs. Carolyn Frevert is the sister to David Graham Philips, a novelist and a man who wrote articles entitled "The Treason of the Senate" (1906). Graham was gunned down outside the Princeton Club at Gramercy Park in New York City in front of witnesses. No one denies that the man who held the gun was Fitzhugh Coyle Goldsborough, a Harvard-educated musician, who turned the gun on himself after Philips collapsed. But Mrs. Frevert is convinced that someone was behind Philips--at best egging him on so he would commit murder and at worst hiring him to do so. She insists that her brother made powerful enemies who would have done anything to silence his accusations.

Holmes and Philips had met previously over a deadly incident involving the British Navy. An incident where Holmes's information helped Philips not only report accurately, but to make his reputation. Knowing the detective's regard for her brother, Mrs. Frevert convinces Holmes (on very little evidence) to travel to America and take up the case which will cast suspicion on several members of the Senate, their households, and even former President Teddy Roosevelt. Holmes, of course, is able to get to the heart of the matter and brings justice without creating too much havoc in American politics.

In The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Seventh Bullet (1992), Daniel D. Victor uses the details of the real murder of Philips to provide the basis of the mystery Holmes and Watson must unravel. He blends fact, rumor, supposition, and down-right fiction to create an interesting mystery with a twist in the tail. He even provides a bit more in the way of clueing than Doyle ever did. An entertaining story and Victor manages to get the Holmes and Watson relationship right which is so very important to a successful pastiche. My primary complaint with the book is the trip to America--I just don't find the stories which transplant our heroes to the United States to be quite as compelling as those set in Britain. I want my London fog and hansom cabs, darn it! Overall, a good entry in Holmes and Watson lore and well worth the read. ★★

[Finished on 4/27/18]

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