I hope Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is resting in peace; should he ever read this novel, he would be aghast. There are so many Holmes’ retellings and adaptations and some of them have merit; this is not one of them.
In 1910, seven years after the death of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and his son, Dr. John Watson, end up joining Joanna Blalock (Holmes’ daughter with Irene Adler) to investigate the death of Charles Harrelston. His family disputes the ruling of his death as a suicide. As the trio investigates, more deaths occur, all linked to Christopher Moran, whose father was Sherlock Holmes’ enemy.
The majority of characters are the children of the original cast. Besides the three already mentioned, Miss Hudson and Inspector Lestrade are the children of Mrs. Hudson and the Scotland Yard inspector respectively. Even a dog has connections to a dog in The Sign of Four?! A grandchild has the same birthmark as his grandfather? And each of the children has exactly the same role as the parent?! Obviously, there are no kudos to the author for originality.
Joanna is supposed to be very observant and intelligent but any astute reader will find the clues obvious and her deductions predictable. The only time the reader cannot make identical deductions is if information is withheld. This woman is unfamiliar with the Star of David (127)? This woman, a nurse who has attended autopsies, doesn’t know about petechiae?
She is not the only character who doesn’t always know what would be expected. Dr. Watson is so dense that he seems to have learned nothing from his time with Sherlock. For example, he keeps being shocked at the fact that murderers come from all walks of life: “’A doctor and a fusilier, and he turns out to be a cold-blooded murderer!’” (61) and “’A distinguished doctor with aristocratic bearing, and he commits blatant murder’” (119). Neither he nor his son, both medical doctors, wouldn’t immediately recognize a tourniquet (120)? Dr. Watson, a pathologist, doesn’t know that a walking stick with a rounded top would cause a round fracture until he is given a demonstration (84)?
Furthermore, some of their actions make no logical sense. When they find an intruder, they attack him and could easily subdue him but they just let him go (219)? The trio approach an expert to help them decode a message, but don’t show him the actual message until the expert says, “’Perhaps if I examined the message I might be able to give more assistance’” (183)? Joanna has to come out of hiding to examine an object when Dr. Watson could have easily done that (163) and not risked exposure? Then in another pivotal scene, the person charged with watching the criminal’s every move isn’t the one who has the revolver (279)? They place a patient who has undergone a serious, life-threatening procedure in a side room full of medical equipment and supplies (266) “where he could be carefully monitored” (286)?
There are other things that make no sense. A tourniquet used by a criminal “’must have slipped beneath the cushion [of a chair] where [he] could not find it’” (120)? Dr. Watson is given four sutures for an incision “barely deep enough to break the skin” and must be told to watch for infection (219)? The trio is almost run down by a horse and carriage on a foggy night and they assume it is a deliberate act perpetrated by the mastermind criminal even though he would have no way of knowing they would be out (271-272)?
Of course, everyone else is even more incompetent. Inspector Lestrade knows nothing about carrying out an investigation since he doesn’t even examine the scene of a death. The pathologist who examines the body of the first victim likewise makes assumptions. Joanna and the Watsons seem astute only because everyone else is totally inept.
What is especially irritating is that the author thinks the reader is stupid too. There is so much mansplaining. The reader is told all about the Rosetta Stone (178) and given the astonishing information that the letter e is the most commonly used letter in the English language (179-180). Nearsightedness is explained as though the word itself isn’t self-explanatory (35). Does anyone not know that if a person chokes on his own vomit, there would be evidence of it in and about his lips and mouth (103)?
Dialogue is stilted and unnatural. Dr. Watson resides at 221b Baker Street and during a conversation there says, “’Some years later there was a knock on the door to [Sherlock’s] rooms at 221b Baker Street’” (66)? A child, speaking to his mother about his dog, says, “’I have noticed this [behaviour] on numerous occasions with our golden retriever, Oliver’” (170). The mother wouldn’t know the breed of the dog in her home?
Though the book may be intended as a form of homage, it is a very amateurish attempt to copy Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I certainly would not recommend it to a Sherlockian.