The Counterfeit Detective [Sherlock Holmes]

Written by Stuart Douglas

Review written by Stephen Thornley

An avid reader, Stephen's knowledge of Crime Fiction is fairly extensive, with The Golden Age is his greatest interest.

The Counterfeit Detective [Sherlock Holmes]
Titan Books
RRP: £7.99
Released: October 18 2016

This could almost be Conan Doyle himself entertaining us with a good yarn about his most famous of all detectives. Mr Douglas does the job expertly; his portrayal of the relationship between Holmes and his biographer and close friend Watson is at once familiar and reassuring. The setting is New York, but we are in the late 1890s a time well known to readers of Sherlock Holmes fans, a time of hansom cabs, gas lighting and the rigid class structures.

In this case, while at home in London Holmes and Watson read newspaper reports of the Great Detective Sherlock Holmes solving crimes in New York. Watson is outraged that someone could impersonate his friend. Holmes, however, is working on some secret case for his brother Mycroft and seems disinclined to act. But, when a letter arrives informing Holmes of the bogus Sherlock's activities and with Watson's urging he decides upon action. They must both set out for America to confront the charlatan.

Even before the two men have reached the United States, Holmes has solved a murder on board the transatlantic liner RMS Oceanic. But, this is merely a straightforward piece of detection, before the "three pipe problem".

When they arrive in New York, the two Englishmen meet New York Police Inspector Simeon Bullock, himself a Yorkshireman by birth. Bullock is initially cool in his attitude as he cannot see what law the impersonator has broken. What is the bogus Sherlock's motive is he merely using the name to get clients or is there a more sinister reason behind the impersonation?

Soon the bogus Sherlock's office is located, but it turns out to be an empty room in a boarding house. The landlady is unaware of the fake Sherlock's activities or where he can be found, but she does confirm that there is also a Dr Watson at his side. However, it is not long after her interview with Holmes that the body of the landlady is found murdered. Does the fake Sherlock know of the celebrated detective's arrival in New York and is he beginning to cover his tracks? There are more murders to come and a night in the cells for Holmes before this exciting case is at an end.

Mr Douglas captures the essence, atmosphere, pace and characterizations of the Victorian detective duo with aplomb. This adventure is an intelligent narrative that creatively evokes the style of the beginning of the Golden Age of detection for fans of the real Sherlock Holmes.

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