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Thursday 16 June 2016

Tales From the Deed Box of John H. Watson MD by Hugh Ashton

A collection of notes made by John Watson on some undocumented cases of Sherlock Holmes are the basis for these three novellas by Hugh Ashton, who 'explains' at the beginning of the book how they came to be in his possession...fairly convincingly... Armed with those notes, he takes on the mantle of the original famous narrator of Holmes and Watson’s crime-solving adventures.

I should, I think, come clean. Be prepared to stand back in amazement. I’ve never actually read any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books about the great 'consulting detective'. There, I’ve said it.

So, the only perceptions I have of the well-known P. I. are those born of performances by great actors on film or TV (Sir Basil Rathbone being the black and white). Of course, not being in a position to compare them to Doyle’s legendary masterpieces, I have no idea whether the representations are good or not. What I do know is those portrayals have given me a fairly consistent picture of Holmes. And yes, I really ought to hurry up and read at least one of the famous duo’s tales before I pop my clogs.

Whether or not Ashton succeeded, I can’t say, obviously. I can’t confirm whether his emulation of the Doyle style was accomplished or not. But what I can say is that these three short stories made delightful reading. Brilliantly, eloquently, articulately written, and utterly enjoyable. If the cinematic representations are true to character, then I’d say Ashton has done well. There may well be Doyle purists who might disagree, who knows, but I read these completely unbiased, carte blanche if you like, and was thoroughly entertained.

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