Sherlock Holmes… and Doctor Vernier…
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes The Devil and the Four by Sam Siciliano
Holmes is consulted by wealthy John Hardy. His wife, Marguerite, has received a letter that has frightened her out of her mind. Written in her native French, it promises doom. It states, “Four for the Devil.” It then mentions four people and promises that she will be number three!
Frightened, she has fled London for Paris, stating she wants to hire a certain Mrs. Rose Grace, a consulting detective! The husband states that his wife’s past is a mystery to him, but they have a happy thirteen-year marriage.
Meanwhile, the first name on the list is found dead under suspicious circumstances…
Thus begins a fast-paced story of secrets, murder, theft and… Satanism!
In Siciliano’s world of 221B, Holmes is still the logical detective, but he has a relationship of a sort with a woman named Violet Wheelwright from one of his cases. No problem with that, even ACD had shown he had feelings for Irene Adler. In these adventures, Holmes is seconded by his cousin, Doctor Henry Vernier instead of Watson. No problem, a lot of tales out there are told by someone other than Watson.
I have but one problem with all of Siciliano’s Holmes stories. Watson is largely written out of the adventures and is treated like a bumbling buffoon. Dr. Vernier and Holmes go out of their way to let clients know that Watson will not be on the case. To have Watson out of the case is one thing; to have him and his adventures dismissed as the lies of an incompetent is blasphemous.
Setting aside the treatment of Watson, the story itself is beautifully written. It’s a great mystery and the logic followed in bringing it to a successful conclusion are superb! The interaction of the characters and the pacing make this story hard to put down! I thoroughly enjoyed it!
I give this book four stars. The one-star ding is for the shameful treatment of Watson.
Quoth the Raven…