Thursday, June 28, 2018

Sherlock Holmes and a Quantity of Debt — Book Review

I have been "missing in action" for almost a month since we came back from Spain and Portugal. (No this picture is not me; it's the cover of a good book I read and am reviewing below.) On return from our trip, we immediately needed to go vote in the California primary. Then Rajan had cataract surgery (which went well). And ever since then I've been catching up on gardening, cleaning, and politics. (Marching this Saturday on behalf of asylum seekers on the border.)

I also wrote a new post about the Braga Romana festival in Portugal on my Fourth Wish blog HEREif you want to check it out.

But I've also found time to read.  I am a Sherlock Holmes fan, and although the discovery of pastiches came late to me, now I'm hooked. When they are well done, they are as satisfying as the original stories. I just finished a most satisfying mystery by David Marcum: Sherlock Holmes and a Quantity of Debt. 

Here is my review below:

David Marcum’s new mystery once again presents Sherlock Holmes and John Watson with just the right “voice” to make this novel seem as if it is part of “the Canon”. The title pays homage to a line from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations,and its layers of meaning unfold with the story.

The story opens with Dr. Watson in the doldrums over the death of his beloved first wife, Constance. He has moved back in with Holmes for company and for some direction to his now purposeless life. It is a cold, stormy day in April. Enter Inspector Alec McDonald with a troubling case in Bedfordshire: Workmen who were replacing an antiquated pipe drainage system on an estate uncovered a body hidden under the pipe fifty years earlier. The corpse has been well-preserved with physical details that play a large part in the story. McDonald asks for help from Sherlock, and off the three go to Bedfordshire to investigate further.

The cast of characters are wonderfully “Victorian Gothic”: Martin Briley, the estate owner, is an old man in his sixties. He’s highly thought of by all the villagers for his many good works throughout his life, but now he’s chair-bound and on the brink of death. His housekeeper, Mrs. Lynch, is as freezing as the inclement weather outside. On the other hand, his estate agent, George Burton, is a popular villager who has worked his way up to his current position. Burton, soon to inherit the estate, enjoys only antipathy from the forbidding Mrs. Lynch. Minor characters are quirky enough to be memorable without detracting from the main cast. Interiors, landscapes, and weather are so well described it’s easy for a reader to visualize and navigate all sites in the story and feel immersed in Victorian England. The clues scattered along the twists and turns of this puzzle mystery lead to a satisfying conclusion. 

All in all, a pleasurable read, and I certainly hope more from this author are in the works. 

Author, David Marcum


David Marcum is also the author of several Sherlock Holmes adventures as well as the editor of several Sherlock Holmes story collections. You can read more about him and all of his writing ventures on his Author Page HERE.

How about you? Are you a Sherlock Holmes fan? Are you a mystery fan? Do you prefer novels or stories? Have you ever written a pastiche?

You can contact David Marcum at