Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Delightful Mystery for Sherlock Holmes Fans

For some time, I have meant to write a review of Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Ruby Elephants, a "must read" for Sherlock fans. It has everything: a truly puzzling mystery, fast pacing, great characters (along with the famous pair), and some very funny scenes.

Where to begin with this wonderful book? The interlocking mysteries in this grand adventure include: an elephant on the rampage, competing secret societies, mysterious notes, a beautiful violinist, hidden passageways, a lethal group of four assassins known as the Archangels, a mad confectioner, Holmes and Watson look-alikes, an exiled Maharajah who wants to go home, stolen diamonds, stolen paintings, a stolen ruby, a kidnapping, dead bodies in strange places, and more than one dicey escape for the famous duo from pursuers who mean business. Central to the plot are eight ruby elephants that everyone wants. (Thus the book’s title.)

The adventure takes place in summer of 1890. Watson’s wife, Mary, is on holiday with a friend in Bath, and Watson has decided to visit his old friend at 221b Baker Street. Like all good pastiches, the author tells the tale purportedly through the reminiscences of Watson, and in Watson’s voice. James captures Arthur Conan Doyle’s style beautifully: With his famous powers of observation, Sherlock continues to astound characters with what he has deduced about them before they have a chance to tell him anything. He out-thinks Watson and his enemies in scene after scene—although sometimes he gets it wrong, and, in a couple of situations, Watson gets it right. No spoilers here; you'll just have to read the book.

An added pleasure for the reader is a thread of subtle humor that runs through the book: Mycroft  and Sherlock vie with each other as to who can deduce more accurately what happened just before their arrival in a key scene. Sherlock has a Shakespearian quote for nearly every situation. All the other characters are splendidly “Victorian,” although they, too, have a humorous edge to their dialogue: A hatter says of a man threatening Watson, “But say what you like about him, he is the owner of a magnificent hat.” In the National Gallery when police are vigilant for art thieves and a huge porcelain vase begins moving, Gregson  takes aim. “. . . but not before Sir William [the director of the gallery] had thrown himself in the way. “For God’s sake, man,” he yelled. “It’s ninth century!” Through it all, the pace never lets up as clue leads to clue and the overall patterns shift like those in a kaleidoscope.

This was a grand read, and I certainly hope the author has planned more adventures for the famous pair.

You can visit his website HERE
His book is available on Amazon, MX Publishing, and Strand Magazine, among other sites. 

How about you? If you are a Sherlock fan, do you have a favorite title to share?


  1. This sounds like a terrific book. I am going to put it on my TBR list and hope I can get to it one day soon. Thanks for this review.

  2. Oh, Rosi, I think you would like it, since you like the "unexpected." This book is full of unexpected twists and turns. I read it more than once, and the second time was even better.

  3. I love Sherlock! I should definitely check this out :D

    Sarah Allen

  4. Hi, Sarah, thanks for stopping by. If you love Sherlock, the author keeps his personality, and also Watson's, but the humor is an added bonus.