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Ted Riccardi is a professor emeritus in the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University. He has served as the counselor of cultural affairs at the United States embassy in New Delhi and is the author of The Oriental Casebook of Sherlock Holmes. Ted and his wife divide their time between New York City, New Mexico, and Nepal.
A Baker Street dozen of "new" cases featuring the imperishable sleuth.
Dr. Watson'scrisp introduction sets the stage by explaining an unexpected inheritance that enabled the pair to travel to the continent, where most of the adventures take place. The opening story, "An Affair in Ravello," though set in Italy, centers on a pair of British matrons, features a Middle Eastern suspect, and ends with a smattering of German. "The Death of Mycroft Holmes" shows the sleuthing duo traveling back and forth from Austria to England in the wake of the death of Holmes' brother, an invaluable employee of The Foreign Office. The novella-length "A Death in Venice," an eerie tale of poisoning and obsession, features Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner. Another long story, "The Case of the Vermilion Face," begins in Holmes' comfy Baker Street digs, but takes the duo to Rome and features an interview with the Pope. "The Case of the Missing Lodger" and "The Case of the Plangent Colonel," set in London and Rome, respectively, are more traditionally tidy Holmes whodunits, though the latter includes a letter to Holmes by Charles Darwin. The collection closes with the more introspective "The Mountain of Fear," in which Holmes uncharacteristically shares secrets from his past as a means to solving a baffling mystery in the present.
Riccardi(The Oriental Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, 2003) brings variety and clever roman à clef strokes to this volume while maintaining the core charm and panache of the Holmes oeuvre.
Posted July 6, 2011
This is the second collection of Sherlockian tales by this author. I reviewed his earlier collection, "The Oriental Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" in 2003, when it was published. this group of stories, unfortunately, does not measure up to his earlier effort. The 'Oriental' tales were full of rich color and intriguing characters. The present tales are novellas and short stories that seem to consist more of nasty characters and problems in timing and nomenclature than of color and life. After a Preface that 'explains' the presence of Holmes and Watson in Italy, we are presented with "An Affair in Ravello," a novella about Sir Jaswant and Lady Singh and some odd events that take place at their villa near Naples. This story also introduces Lady Singh's sister, Lady Maxwell, who is supposed by the author to be engaged in a long-term relationship with Holmes. "A Case of Criminal Madness" is poorly resolved and features some 'criminal masterminds' being fiendish. "The Death of Mycroft Holmes" is a novella that contradicts events in "His Last Bow" and tangles the Holmes brothers in the mess in Sarajevo in August, 1914. "The Case of the Plangent Colonel" is an oddity. It introduces us to Holmes' interest in modern music and musical artists in Italy, but also to another criminal mastermind smuggler. "Porlock's Demise" brings a formal end to the Moriarty epic, sort of. It ends with more questions than answers and does not encourage any hopes for resolution. "A Death in Venice" is a novella about the death of Richard Wagner. It is full of musical geniuses and their relations and convolutions and it ends with his American biographer, Mary Burrell, thanking Holmes for the information that he put in her way. "The Case of the Two Bohèmes" s a novella that involves Holmes with the creators of "La Bohème" and in the complex lives of the musical colony in Italy, neither of which seem worth the trouble. "The Case of the Vermillion Face" is another novella that brings Holmes into the service of a dying Leo XIII when a papabilè (a likely candidate for the Papacy) Cardinal disappears. The investigation uncovers more than I really wanted to know about early 20th Century Vatican politics. "The Case of Isadora Persano" completely ignores the original citation in "The Problem of Thor Bridge" and tells an entirely different story in a dull fashion that involves Spiritualism and contradicts the Preface as well. "A Singular Event in Tranquebar" also tells a confused tale. Holmes deduces everything and explains it all in even more confusing fashion. "The Case of the Missing Lodger" introduces an old friend of Watson's who conveniently dies and presents a mystery to Holmes. The solution involves grave robbing and hidden treasure. "The Mountain of Fear" reintroduces the Singhs and adds a variety of frills and dressing. I lost track somewhere along the line and I suspect the author did so as well. This collection is a real disappointment. Borrow it from a library and buy it only if you like it. Perhaps you would like to buy my copy. Reviewed by: Philip K. Jones, July 2011Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.