Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Case of the Grave Accusation A Sherlockian Adventure by Dicky Neely Editor Paul R. Spiring

This is not so much a book as a 'conceit'. Holmes and Watson 'come off the [Victorian] page' and into our world to defend their creator against the charges of plagiarism, adultery and incitement to murder. It reads like a piece of ephemera, and as such sits somewhat uneasily with Mr. Spiring's careful and solid scholarship - so one is not surprised to learn that the tale first appeared in a (now defunct) Texas newspaper. Having said that, the whole thing is great fun - and was writtten well in advance of the Cumberbatch/Freeman 'modernisation' of the canon by the BBC. We have Sherlock showing Watson "a truly marvellous invention" called a desktop computer, and bringing him a suit of clothes "more in keeping with  the contemporary fashion." Watson says that, although showers were around in his day, "they were nothing like this one, which produced torrents of hot water for so long as I desired. What luxury!" The pair have travelled to Devon to refute the allegations of  'Roger la Pelure d'Ail' (a pseudonym for the real-life Rodger Garrick-Steele who in 2000 wanted Bertram Fletcher Robinson's body exhumed to prove he had been poisoned by Doyle because he was about to reveal himself as the real author of The Hound of the Baskervilles). Paul Spiring ably refutes this in a series of contemporary notes after Holmes and  Watson give d'Ail his come-uppence and then return "to the pages of books that were written long ago." Altogether a very refreshing piece of hokum which must (and should) be popular with all Sherlockians, and sell like the proverbial hot cakes.

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