The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes : The Stalwart Companions by H Paul Jeffers

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The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes : The Stalwart Companions by H Paul Jeffers

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: This account of a lost Sherlock Holmes adventure, featuring future president Teddy Roosevelt as 'Watson', is readable but fails to really reach the heights of the best crime novels.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 192 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Titan Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-1848565098

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After replying to an article written by the world's first consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, young Teddy Roosevelt, about to study law at Columbia, strikes up a correspondence with him. They're pleased to finally meet when Holmes is acting in America – and naturally, Roosevelt introduces him to another friend, NYPD Detective Will Hargreaves. Of course, foul play is in the air – and the three men are led into an investigation which starts off as 'just' a dead body, but leads them to discover a plot against the President himself, Rutherford Hayes.

Holmes is a legendary character, Roosevelt is one of the most famous American presidents, and it's good to see the pair of them together here. There's a reasonable enough mystery; we get the expected nods to Holmes fans such as myself – mentions of Mycroft, carriage chases, and the rest. And yet, this mystery never really gets going properly. There's nothing much wrong with it – the dialogue, descriptions, and plotting are all fine – but that's all they are. There's nothing that lifts it up into the realms where I'd be falling over myself to recommend it to you. Admittedly, it's probably not being helped by the fact that I read another book in the same series immediately after it which was far superior – the Man From Hell, mentioned below – but even before I'd read that book, this one was never likely to stick in my mind for very long.

It's also an extremely slight book – while it weighs in at about 200 pages overall, only 110 or so of them are the 'main' plot, with a few more being the foreword, introduction and afterword. Meanwhile, 60 or so are devoted to notes on the book tying the events to actual history and to Sherlockian studies, and to a preview of another book in the series. This is all very worthy, but if anything, just adds to the feeling that it was written as an exercise in tying together two famous names, rather than as a book in its own right.

Really, that's my main problem with the story. It's not bad by any means – the two main characters of Sherlock and Teddy are captured rather well, especially some of the expected scenes in which Holmes dazzles new acquaintances by telling them many facts about themselves. But compared to the vast amount of Holmes literature out there, and the even more massive field of general detective novels, it's very hard to direct you to this above many more superior books.

Having said that, if you're such a fan of Holmes that you want to read anything he features in, I wouldn't actively dissuade you from this one.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further Reading: Anyone interested in Sherlock may be more tempted by the superb non-fiction book [[Close to Holmes: A Look at the Connections Between Historical London, Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by Alistair Duncan]]. If you're more interested in crime fiction set around the turn of the 20th century than just in Holmes, I'd suggest taking a look at Jed Rubenfeld's excellent The Interpretation of Murder, which sees Sigmund Freud turn detective in 1909 New York. Finally, if I can get away with three recommendations here, I absolutely loved Sherlock Holmes and the Man From Hell by Barrie Roberts and The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Web Weaver by Sam Siciliano in the same series as this novel.

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