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The Strange Return of Sherlock Holmes

The Strange Return of Sherlock Holmes - Barry Grant I nearly gave up on this novel in the first paragraph, when our supposedly English narrator John Wats...erm, I do beg your pardon, John Wilson, mentions having been "on an airplane to India". I think you meant to say you were *in* an *aeroplane*, old chap. I immediately deduced that the author was an American gentleman. (Assuming there is such a thing.) I turned to the back flap in order to confirm this deduction - only to be informed, rather tantalisingly, that "Barry Grant is a man of mystery with a double identity, a published author writing here under another name."So the mystery began.At Hay-on-Wye, Wilson is introduced to one 'Cedric Coombes' who, slowly but surely, is revealed to be Sherlock Holmes, revived after being found frozen inside a glacier since 1914. (Adam Adamant anyone?) Cedric tells the Thirty-Nine-Stepsy tale of how he came to be trapped in the ice while on a mission for King and Country at the outbreak of the Great War, but it's the current war in Afghanistan that provides the backdrop for the crime with which Scotland Yard require his assistance in 2007.Since being thawed out, Sherlock has been busy catching up with the modern world: he is au fait with DNA (he's trying to develop a forensic technique for determining who has owned or handled any book in the world) and he now attends crime scenes armed with a digital camera as well as his magnifying glass.Anyone who enjoys Gyles Brandreth's Oscar Wilde detective stories will probably enjoy Barry Grant's Sherlock novels as well. Although the author's Americanness results in a few more jolting clangers along the way. Cedric uses the phrases "I guess" and "pretty much", for example, which I think we can safely say Sherlock Holmes never would - being, as they are, one step up from "I dunno" and "whatever!" Be warned though: in the end, this is no cosy mystery. Some readers (American ones) find the denouement uncomfortably political. For me, the ending added unexpected power to what was otherwise a mere divertissement.I had never heard of this book until I saw it on the shelf at my local library and borrowed it on impulse. It was good to find Sherlock living on - despite occasionally lapsing into New World lingo, but sadly the library is slated for closure. Hopefully a future case for Cedric will involve the mysterious, and very brutal death of the British Culture Secretary inside a closed library.