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Review of Sherlock Holmes & The Singular Affair - M.K. Wiseman

Sherlock Holmes & the Singular Affair

Before Baker Street, there was Montague.

Before partnership with a former army doctor recently returned from Afghanistan, Sherlock Holmes had but the quiet company of his own great intellect. Solitary he might be but, living as he did for the thrill of the chase, it was enough.

For a little while, at the least, it was enough.

That is, until a client arrives at his door with a desperate plea and an invitation into a world of societal scandal and stage door dandies. Thrust deep in an all-consuming role and charged with the safe-keeping of another, Holmes must own to his limits or risk danger to others besides himself in this the case of the aluminium crutch.

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I'm always wary of books which use beloved characters, partly because I'm aware that it's very unusual for these new stories to match the brilliance of the originals, but also because I think among some readers there is a degree of negativity about such books. One only has to look at the hatred for Sophie Hannah's Poirot books and Sarah Phelps' TV specials which abounds among some Agatha Christie fans to see this.

However, I keep coming back to these kinds of books and always give new TV/film adaptations a chance because I can't pass up the opportunity to spend more time having new adventures with old friends. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Wiseman is not an author I've come across before, so it was with a mixture of trepidation and excitement that I approached this review.

Although the book begins in the usual way with Dr. Watson narrating, it soon moves into the narrative of the young Sherlock Holmes, though if I understood correctly, it is the older detective reflecting on an adventure of his younger days. Once I'd got my head round that departure from what might have been expected, everything runs smoothly. The language and style is definitely reminiscent of Conan Doyle's, as is the plot. Is it vintage Holmes? No. But I wouldn't expect it to be. Only Conan Doyle can truly do Conan Doyle. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was close enough to the originals for me to feel I was back in Sherlock's world. Purists would undoubtedly find things to criticise. However, if like me, you just relish an opportunity to delve into that world again and see someone else's take on a classic character, then this is definitely a book for you!

As I said at the beginning, some continuations and adaptations work, some don't. In my opinion, this is one that most certainly does and I will look out for more of Wiseman's Holmes stories in the future. Having read all the originals multiple times, it was fantastic to get a totally new story to get my teeth into. Wiseman avoids the temptation to over-complicate the plot just to show how clever Holmes is and his deductions are as understated as they should be - it's not showing off, it's obvious. To him at least! In having Holmes tell his own story, it allows Wiseman's writing to speak for itself and become a tribute to, rather than an imitation of, the original books. I think this was a sensible choice - Wiseman writes well and her work is quite capable of standing on its own. This was a throughly good read.

Author Bio – M. K. Wiseman has degrees in Interarts & Technology and Library & Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her office, therefore, is a curious mix of storyboards and reference materials. Both help immensely in the writing of historical novels. She currently resides in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

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