As an avid consumer of mysteries, I’ve always liked Sherlock Holmes. Mostly, it’s Victorian England that draws me in. Oddly enough, I think the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories are okay, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to read them again. Luckily, the characters have managed to outlast the original tellings, shedding their stilted skins over the years to work their way into modern versions. With a few exceptions, they’ve also managed to keep their Victorian setting. (See the excellent The House of Silk, for example.)
Enter a new series by Leonard Goldberg that starts with “The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes.” Not to give anything away, but I’m pretty sure the title … gives things away.
Anyway, what is this? A cozy? I’ve never read a mystery that could be classified as a cozy, but I think this does. Much of the action is moved along via dialogue and several events happen off-stage. It’s close to the originals while remaining contemporary.
The year is 1914, Sherlock Holmes has since passed on and the Victorian Era has closed. Doctor Watson, still alive and kicking, while visiting with his son, Doctor John Watson, Jr., receives an unexpected guest in the form of a woman who would like the men to look into the death of her brother, which has been classified as a suicide. A witness verifies they saw the man jump from a high window. Another witness says the man fell from the roof; he didn’t jump. But the witness is only a young boy and hardly reliable. Yet Doctor Watson immediately takes the case when he learns the identity of the young boy’s mother, Joanna Blalock. And then, of course, the game is afoot.
The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes is told from the young Watson’s point of view, which is a good choice if your series is passing the torch. Every affectation of a Sherlock Holmes mystery is here, from the 221b Baker Street location, to a new Lestrade in Scotland Yard. Even some of the stilted dialogue remains. The characters are all drawn well, unique in their own ways while reflecting the original cast created by Doyle.
Despite the interesting characters, the author refrains from any deep dives into them, resulting in some character choices coming off as necessary to the plot instead of the characters themselves. This is particularly evident in the romance that develops between Joanna and young Watson (what, you didn’t think that was going to happen?). While the events are there that could lead up to a romantic entanglement, it feels perfunctory. It could have been a driving force as the end game played out, which would have heightened the stakes considerably.
That leaves the reader with the classic outwitting of the detective’s nemisis. After all, it’s about unraveling the clues and catching the bad guy. Given that the original Sherlock Holmes was hardly emotive himself, it works well enough. And the conclusion was quite good and very … Sherlockian?
Fans of the original Sherlock Holmes should enjoy it.
Fans of the cozy mystery genre should enjoy it (I think…).
Fans of authors like Jeffrey Deaver or Michael Connelly may not find as much excitement.
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