In the 1940s an Argentinian librarian gives a secret manuscript to a private investigator. The document was written in 1928 by none other than the famous consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, who is living under the guise of a German professor teaching at Cambridge university. Doctor Watson has died so Holmes has been trying to keep his mind active as he sees out his final days. One day he is visited by an author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who asks him to look into some information he received at a recent spiritual séance he attended. The case involves multiple worlds, Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway, Mrs Hudson, and many other meta-themes.

I can’t claim to be a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes. I read all of the Doyle stories and novels when I was a teenager but I’ve never bothered reading any of the raft of subsequent novels that have been written since. However I do find the character utterly fascinating, and generally enjoy fiction set in Victorian London.

I thought this was okay. It’s quite well-written, if unlike the style of Conan Doyle when writing as Doctor Watson. But the plot explains this by the way Holmes apologises for his rather wandering narrative, suggesting that Watson has a far more active method of writing than he has.

The plot is convoluted and preposterous but I suppose that’s part of the fun of it. It’s a short novel and I had fun reading it but it wasn’t enough to make me seek out anything else of the author’s work, or bother reading any other Sherlock Holmes tales by other writers. I’d recommend this to fans of Sherlock Holmes, but no one else.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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