Sherlock Holmes and the Hapsburg Tiara

Sherlock Holmes and the Hapsburg Tiara

by Alan Vanneman
     
 

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In a crafty new novel featuring the world's greatest literary detective, Alan Vanneman extends the boundaries of the Sherlock Holmes canon with an investigation that takes the celebrated sleuth and his cohort Dr. Watson far from the cozy Victorian comforts of 221B Baker Street. Indeed, enjoying the luxuries of the Orient Express, they travel the breadth of fin de

Overview

In a crafty new novel featuring the world's greatest literary detective, Alan Vanneman extends the boundaries of the Sherlock Holmes canon with an investigation that takes the celebrated sleuth and his cohort Dr. Watson far from the cozy Victorian comforts of 221B Baker Street. Indeed, enjoying the luxuries of the Orient Express, they travel the breadth of fin de siècle Europe to exotic Constantinople, though not strictly in pursuit of pleasure. For death, too, is traveling first class. The mystery begins familiarly enough in London, in the middle of the night. Holmes and Watson are summoned to a crime scene that seems to vanish before their eyes, as they find themselves with neither evidence nor a client. They do not want for opposition, however, not with the governments of three great empires arrayed against them. As Holmes strives to unmask his most ruthless and elusive foe, he is transported into a world of high finance rife with intrigue and crime. With a cast of characters that includes the enchanting Countess D'Espinau and Winston Churchill, as well as a beggar girl whom Watson adopts, Holmes follows a trail that leads ultimately and unpredictably to the fabled and fabulous lost Hapsburg Tiara.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
After his weak debut, Sherlock Holmes and the Giant Rat of Sumatra (2002), which pitted the master sleuth against a race of intelligent rat-men, Vanneman provides a more convincing adventure for Holmes and Watson-a swashbuckling tale of international intrigue centered on a valuable diamond and mysterious Austrian nobles who may be involved in multiple murders. As before, however, the book goes on too long. When Winston Churchill enlists the aid of the Baker Street duo in tracing a man posing as an archduke, Cecil Rhodes summarily dismisses them from the case. Rhodes proceeds to fix a coroner's inquest, thus thwarting them from independently pursuing justice. Years later, the pair resumes the now-cold trail across Europe, accompanied by a reformed street urchin who's been adopted by the good doctor. Offstage much of the time, Holmes employs his spying and burglary skills more than his deductive abilities. Though the author ingeniously adds to the canon by having Watson serve, like Conan Doyle, as a field surgeon during the Boer War, he undermines this plausible twist by once again spending many pages detailing Watson's amorous pursuits ("she grasped me by the most shameless of handles"), a far cry from Doyle's Victorian reticence and a pattern that won't endear his pastiches to proper Sherlockians. (Feb. 2) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The Queen would not approve-nor, for that matter, would most Sherlockians. Although Dr. Watson did claim an "experience of women which extends over many nations," he did not tell tales of his amorous adventures. Unfortunately, in this novel, Vanneman expends a lot more effort in detailing Watson's dalliances with the Countess D'Epinau than he does in developing a plot. Most of the mystery seems to take place outside the tale, leaving the listener confused. The author decided to have Watson adopt a girl and take part in the Boer War-neither of which are part of the oeuvre of Arthur Conan Doyle. The story itself does not keep one's attention, as Vanneman name-drops the elite of the British Empire, from Winston Churchill to Cecil Rhodes. Read by Simon Vance, this work is not recommended.-Theresa Connors, Arkansas Tech Univ., Russellville Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a second round of resuscitation (Sherlock Holmes and the Rat of Sumatra, 2002), Vanneman makes the Great Detective play second Stradivarius to Watson. True, Holmes has flashes of characteristic brilliance while chasing the eponymous Hapsburg tiara, but it's Watson who gets center stage: Watson the hard-working doctor, Watson the successful lothario, Watson the proud adoptive papa of an irresistible ragamuffin. The case this time is brought by late-night callers with a commission concerning affairs of state and one Joseph Anton Salvator, the Austrian archduke-palatine, who may or may not be an imposter. Soon enough, Holmes and Watson are aboard the opulent Orient Express en route to Constantinople. For Watson-or Johnny, as his ladyloves call him-the trip is unforgettable. During it, he encounters Madame la Comtesse D'Espinau, whose "beauty was truly enough to pluck the reason from any man," and shares with her enthusiastically rendered bouts of "amatory satisfaction." The trail grows cold, then hot and cold again over a period of some eight years. There'll be murders most foul, alarums, narrow escapes, and even ratiocinative lapses by the Great Detective, but in the end, the tiara is restored to its rightful owner, justice is served, and H&W earn anew the thanks of a grateful nation. Spotty stuff, but Watson in love just might be worth the price.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786715091
Publisher:
Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/03/2005
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
0.73(w) x 6.00(h) x 9.00(d)

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