A Staggering Achievement. I have been a fan of Craig Stephen Copland from his first Holmes/Watson pastiche and will attest that if you have one of Mr Copland’s offerings in hand you have a good read coming your way. Although I have been known to ding him upon occasion, rest assured that purchasing any (or all) of his offerings will guarantee hours of first-class reading. Most of his offerings have merited rave reviews. Before giving my views on this particular outing, a digression.
Many Holmes/Watson writers place their narratives within specific historical period and tie them to what was occurring at the time. So Holmes and Watson may meet Bram Stoker (Dracula), Winston Churchill and other notables of the time. Where writers attempting to plug some particular crime into a specific setting is forgetting that the story is the thing. Some meander off into descriptions of various historical monuments and such and they forget there is a story to be told.
One of many things Mr Copland does to perfection is use historical settings and events much as a skilled chef uses spices–to enhance and never overpower. So after reading one of his outings, the reader has had his historical knowledge enhanced and benefited from the various tidbits of information provided. As noted, this is never done in an overwhelming manner. Coupled with this is Mr Copland’s writings have brisk paces and there are always subtle asides and allusions that keep readers on their toes. The reader should be ready to hit the ground running because past-paced action is the rule of the day.
Now to this specific story. This is a staggering achievement. I’d say it ranks as one of the very best stories I have in in my collection of 400+volumes of Holmes/Watson pastiches. In this collection there are a number of anthologies containing offerings of dozens of writers. If I were forced to choose my top 10 rated Holmes/Watson stories (Including those written by Conan Doyle) this would be one of those in that select number. Buy the book. I suspect there will be many rave reviews.
Drstatz – April 2, 2016