Monday, October 14, 2013

The Reichenbach Problem by Martin Allison Booth

I have enjoyed reading the Sherlock Holmes stories over the years, including the recent ones by Laurie R. King. Now there is a new author in the ring.

Well, sort of. This novel revolves around Conan Doyle, creator of the Holmes character. Needing time away from his popularity, he leaves his family for a couple of weeks' quiet in the Swiss mountains. On the train to his destination, an irritating Mr. Holloway attaches himself to Doyle, much to the author's dismay. The two arrive at the quiet village and Doyle settles in for a quiet time away from his notoriety.

As expected, there is soon a death that may be suspicious. A man has fallen (or was pushed) off the cliff at the Reichenbach Falls. Doyle is disinclined to make much of it but Holloway insists the duo find the truth behind the death. The investigation turns deadly when Doyle himself is accused of the murder.

Those who have enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes stories, both original and modern, will enjoy this novel yet be a bit frustrated by it. It was enjoyable to read a well written novel. Booth has a way with words. For example, upon Doyle experiencing a disappointment: “My heart returned to its customary place lying disconsolate upon the diaphragm.” (21) Booth has done an excellent job recreating the style of writing I liked so well in the Holmes stories.

The disappointment comes in that there are no clever clues and amazing deductions I've come to expect in this type of story. Doyle does discover clues and postulate theories, but nothing so striking as Holmes would have done. I was a bit disappointed that the author was not portrayed as clever as the character he had created.

Also, the novel is a bit long. At over 350 pages, I think it could have been tighter, with some of the scenes eliminated without destroying the story.

Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable book to read. If Doyle had made an amazing deduction or two, it would have been near perfect.

Martin Allison Booth has been a Conan Doyle fan as long as he can remember. After a long and successful career in broadcasting, working as script writer, editor, producer, and commissioning executive for both the BBC and ITV, he is now a parish priest.

Lion Fiction (distributed in the U.S. by Kregel Books), 367 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
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