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Over 300 years later, explorers at a Neolithic site discovered the body of their expedition leader in a trench, bound to a chair. That's when Inspector MacDonald called on Sherlock Holmes. Arriving in the pleasant village of Little Stoke, Holmes learns there is more at stake than the murder of an aging academic. Two powerful families continue an age-old dispute over the lands ...
Over 300 years later, explorers at a Neolithic site discovered the body of their expedition leader in a trench, bound to a chair. That's when Inspector MacDonald called on Sherlock Holmes. Arriving in the pleasant village of Little Stoke, Holmes learns there is more at stake than the murder of an aging academic. Two powerful families continue an age-old dispute over the lands their ancestors once held. They each request that Holmes assist them in order to discover the whereabouts of the long-lost charters that granted their lands. Holmes soon finds himself surrounded by unique village personalities, strange nursery rhymes, mysterious ancient barrows, and the ruins of a mediaeval Abbey church. As he delves into the case with Watson by his side, he learns that the murder that drew him to Little Stoke was the final act in a play that has been running for over three centuries.
Suppressed for over 50 years, now the story can be told—of murder, deception, the lust for power and unimagined fortune. It is the story of The Charters Affair.
Winner—1994 Eaton Literary Award, Book Category.
Posted March 17, 2001
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's immortal creation, Sherlock Holmes, 'lives' in 56 short stories and four 'novella' length adventures. Doyle never wrote a novel-length adventure based on his creation; the total output of his genius was directed to audiences who read periodicals, such as 'The Strand'. Regardless of how intricate a plot could be, the resolution was accomplished in a modicum of words. Limited by the requirements of periodical publishing, and interested more in grand historical novels, Doyle never pursued a true Sherlock Holmes novel. 'The Charters Affair' remedies this situation. It is 'The Holmes Novel Doyle Never Wrote', an inspired blend of Doyle's creation with Doyle's passion for history. Although there have been numerous novel-length adventures of Sherlock Holmes, such as the series by Frank Thomas and the novels by Nicholas Myers, few have attempted to take on the task of writing a Victorian novel with Holmes as the centerpiece. 'The Charters Affair' is based on a Watsonian reference (in the Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez) to an untold Holmesian tale. The author starts from this one line and unfurls a tale stretching from the predawn of history to the murder of an scientist at an archeological dig. Set in the south of England, the story is both evocative in its descriptions of both place and person. The author has made every effort to maintain the Watsonian writing style and has generally succeeded in the attempt. (While it is usual to review any Holmes book with an eye to comparing it to Watson¿s writing style, most Sherlockian scholars would agree that even Watson wasn¿t consistent! There are even cases of `Americanisms¿ slipping into adventures from the `Casebook¿), While Holmes and Watson work their way through one, then another, mystery, it becomes clear that the author has also shifted focus from Holmes to Watson during the crucial periods of investigation. This change of focus does three important things ¿ it represents Watson¿s intelligence and industry in a better light than most of the earlier Holmes adventure; it uncovers the necessary hard work and diligence Holmes applied to solving a case; and finally represents Holmes ¿ not as a magician ¿ but as an astute observer who has well-trained himself to think logically. Too often we conceive of Holmes stultifying an amazed, and slow-thinking, Watson with an act of mental legerdemain ¿ solving baffling crimes by barely stretching from his easy chair. Although Watson does relate a few instances where Holmes solved a client¿s case with the merest expression of physical activity, Watson also often tells us with what effort Holmes expended in cases after case, often leaving their humble chambers at 221b Baker Street for days at a time. The restrictions of short story writing forced Doyle into compressing all the neat `behind the scenes¿ activities Holmes undertook in his pursuit of the truth and book ending them with the classic Holmes/Watson openings and the magical resolution at the end. `The Charters Affair¿ provides us with both the expected `bookends¿, but also takes us `behind the scenes¿ to witness the arduous path Holmes walked to come to a resolution. Watson, too, fares better in `The Charters Affair¿. His contributions to the case are critical and, in one situation, pivotal. Our good Doctor is not the dullard we have come to expect; he is a vibrant, intelligent individual who plays an important part in both Holmes¿ adventure and Holmes¿ life. `The Charters Affair¿ follows all the rules for a Holmes pastiche making it a `comfortable¿ read for inveterate Holmes¿ followers and an exciting introduction for those new to the Holmesian universe. `The Charters Affair¿ is a welcome, complex, and compelling novel. I highly recommend it to you.
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