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Sherlock Holmes and the Railway Maniac

Type of material: Softcover book
Author: Barrie Roberts
Publisher: Allison & Busby, Suite 111, Bon Marche Centre, 241 Ferndale Road, London SW9 BJ
Year: 2001
Pages: 191 pp.
Price: £6.99
ISBN: ISBN 0 7490 0546 7

Review 1: This is a first rate pastiche by an author previously unknown to me. Following tradition, the story is narrated by Watson, and begins when he is visiting Holmes in 1906 at his retirement home in Sussex. Brother Mycroft suggests that he investigates the derailment of two trains, which have resulted in many deaths. The pace soon quickens, and clues accumulate. Who is the mysterious astronomer? What is a Russian yacht doing in a remote Scottish harbour? The King himself is taking a keen interest; the German Intelligence Service is involved, and the peace of Europe is threatened.

Real and Canonical events and characters are introduced, including the Siege of Sidney Street and the spymaster von Bork. Fact and fiction are skillfully interwoven, and the author appears to have a good knowledge of the political history and, not least, the railway system of the early 20th century. Holmes, as we expect, triumphs in the end, which does not come until 1914 or before many dangerous encounters with a variety of foes. The final page consist of the authorís explanatory notes on some of the events in the book, which is written in a style closely resembling Watsonís own.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: Eric Monahan, [The Torr, Spring, 2002]

Review 2: Barrie Roberts is one of the most reliable writers of new Sherlock Holmes stories, so Iím delighted to see his first novel Sherlock Holmes and the Railway Maniac newly reissued in an attractive paperback edition. He captures the Watson-Doyle style better than most, and he knows his Canon and his history. Itís astonishing that no one else seems to have thought of having Holmes investigate the anarchist outrages that culminated in the siege of Sidney Street in 1912. Sherlock Holmes and the Railway Maniac is an engrossing and intelligent read. I look forward to seeing the rest of Barrie Robertsí books in paperback.

Reviewed by: Roger Johnson, [District Messenger 217, 2001]

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