From the book jacket: It is 1947, and the long-retired
Holmes, now 93, lives in a remote Sussex farmhouse, where his
memories and intellect begin to go adrift. He lives with a
housekeeper and her young son, Roger, whose patient,
respectful demeanor stirs paternal affection in Holmes. Holmes
has settled into the routine of tending his apiary, writing in
journals, and grappling with the diminishing powers of his
razor-sharp mind, when Roger comes upon a case hitherto
unknown. It is that of a Mrs. Keller, the long-ago object of
Holmes's deep--and never acknowledged--infatuation.
Comment: Cullin's Holmes is a rather nice old fellow. He's still the exceptionally acute observer he always was, but age has added a welcome layer of humanity to his character. Not only has he lost "the arrogance of my youth", but as he points out, he never was the person people took him to be - he never wore a deerstalker or smoked a pipe, these - he says - were just figments of the illustrator's imagination; and he's quite willing to admit that he and John ("you know, I never did call him Watson--he was John, simply John") bungled a number of important cases but "of course, who wants to read about the failures?"
I thoroughly enjoyed this tale with its three interlinking strands - Holmes' recent visit to Japan, the previously untold case of 'The Glass Armonica' and his life in rural Sussex tending to his bees. Like the reviewer below I would be happy to read more Holmes stories by Cullin, but I think it's unlikely that he will write more. It felt to me as if he'd achieved what he set out to do in this one story, and to write further on the same subject would only dilute.
"This extra layer of realistic complexity makes Cullin's immensely moving seventh outing one of the best of all the Holmes pastiches. A talented writer's bold step forward. Let's hope Cullin isn't finished with Sherlock Holmes." - Kirkus.
This review is from the May 22, 2006 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.
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