The Strange Return of Sherlock Holmes by Barry Grant

James Wilson has decided to retire from journalism and to live out his days in Hertfordshire. To make the rent a bit easier to handle, he agrees to take on a roommate. Upon meeting Mr. Cedric Coombes, Wilson finds the man’s behavior a tad eccentric and he also experiences a strange feeling and swears he has seen Mr. Coombes somewhere before.

When Coombes is asked to assist on a local murder, Wilson cannot help but to follow along. There he witnesses first hand a display of deductive reasoning that could only have come from a novel. After several instances of seeing such marvels, Wilson begins to wonder just who Coombes really is.

A retiring gentleman takes an apartment with an eccentric roommate only to find himself drawn in to a baffling mystery. The roommate has a brilliant mind, plays violin, and has a penchant for cocaine despite the laws and health risks. Sounds familiar, no?

If the basic plotline of The Strange Return of Sherlock Holmes sounds familiar, it is with good reason. It is the first in a series and much like it’s predecessor, A Study in Scarlet, it introduces us two very familiar characters. And though the names have changed, much of the rest remains the same.

Grant has done his research well in regards to creating a unique yet familiar voice for Holmes. Much of his speech and mannerisms are the same, harkening back to his Victorian days, yet there are also minor differences as Holmes grows accustomed to modern times and modes of speaking. The way Holmes is brought in to the modern day is also handled well with enough factual science combined with a bit of hand waving to make the truth plausible.

One thing I found quite amusing, and is something I hope is continued through subsequent books; is how a goodly number of those who meet Coombes/Holmes for the first time have a kind of deja vu. They feel like they have seen him or met him before but can not quite place where. Once Wilson knows the truth about Coombes it is something he finds amusing, and is something I found funny as well.

As much as I enjoyed The Strange Return of Sherlock Holmes, I found a few minor drawbacks. For me, I found the book too short. Much like the original story it is a novella and therefore under 200 pages. I found it too short to deal with the various threads of the story in a satisfactory manner.

The other point that irked me was how quickly and neatly the case was resolved. The villain fairly spelled out his crimes to Wilson and Holmes. There was little to no guessing as to who had done it.

As a Sherlock Holmes fan, I liked reading The Strange Return of Sherlock Holmes. It was a light and fun story and reminded me a good deal of the animated series Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century. Fans of Conan Doyle and Holmes might well enjoy this series.

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