#BookReview Sherlock Holmes and The Adventure of the Coal-Tar Derivative by Steven Philip Jones.

A series of cases brings Watson closer to the infamous Moriarty gang, each case unveiling the intent behind their criminal activities, designed to seek out a weapon that could bring about war.

The story begins on a stormy ocean, all seems lost, waves crashing against the boat, a stranger appears on the helm; wealthy, secretive and veiled with a mask over his face, he washes ashore holding a box with three keyholes.

Elementary, my dear Watson.”

Sherlock Holmes

Now, it is Dr Watson’s turn to play private detective while he struggles on without Holmes, and gets called in on a case by Lestrade to help them investigate why a man was killed. The dead man is suspected of being a Moriarty assassin, discovered in a Special Branch agent’s house whom was undercover to incriminate Moriarty’s gang. A close friend of Watson resurfaces, shaking Watson’s confidence.

As events unfold an old ally shows his hand. Revealing the key players that could help bring Moriarty’s gang to justice.

Jumping to Watson’s next adventure in June of 1893, two years after Sherlock’s death, once again Watson and Lestrade race against time to find the clues to lead them to their quarry.

Throughout the adventures, narrative travels to Sherlock frustrated with his situation and wanting to be truthful to a dear friend, while Watson goes through periods of grief, stumbling once again to Baker Street reminiscing about a past case that changed all their lives.

The story then turns full circle back to where it all started.  A three-key box that might hold a great treasure, and a terrible weapon.

Almost anything meant for good can be used for evil… Conjecturing on the song the Sirens sang to Odysseus is a chronos pastime, but it feels like everything we have accomplished is leading to a fast approaching kairos moment.

The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson

Double dealings, conspiracy, betrayals and subterfuge unveil more enemies waiting to pounce. Walter Simonson, an agent with Special Branch, and Holmes must practice their wiles against foes intent to keeping the Moriarty gang alive.

Throughout the adventures, Watson and Holmes eventually unite. Dealing with new cases, and bringing them to a rather sinister and malevolent case that will test their belief on what is possible.

My Review.

Before I even began, the author had drawn me in with the particulars to details on the background of Sherlock Holmes and the Victorian era. I already felt I would be enthralled with this fictional world created through the eyes of history.

Dr Watson’s narrative occurs after Holmes’ supposed death when capturing Moriarty. Spoken from the first-person point of view, it reads like Watson is talking directly to you.

At the bottom of each page contains further information on points covered so the reader can better understand the era, and what is being discussed.

The world of Sherlock Holmes and his nemesis Moriarty still outshines many plots today. There is just something so menacing about the way Moriarty and his gang works. And of course, one cannot read a Sherlock Holmes book and not get caught up in the little details that start to reveal themselves. Small clues that gradually unravel to reveal the bigger picture.

The story jumps forward to 1920 where a major plot aspect is revealed. Although, if you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, it isn’t all that surprising.

The story is a slightly convoluted mix of accounts of the key players in Sherlock Holmes and the significance of their adventures. Even Sherlock Holmes’ brother Mycroft plays a vital role throughout.

The story jumps from the 1890s to 1920s, flashing to and fro these timelines, gradually filling in more details on the early adventures and the significance of solving these cases.

The story allows the reader to get to know Watson a little better without being in the shadow of Sherlock, picking up the clues along with Watson, while at the sometime Sherlock mannerisms are present throughout. We even get a brief glimpse into the Jack the Ripper murders, and some of the other key events that happened around the late 1880s and 1890s.

These Watson and Sherlock Holmes stories do not have the same panache like the originals; however, they are a fun mystery read that leads you to suspect certain things, yet you don’t know for certain until the grand reveal.

I’m loving the history that is brought into each adventure; history of a place, history of a person, or the history of the case that they are investigating. The history is seamlessly interwoven throughout the plot without it feeling like a lecture.

The viewpoint of Simonson and Watson take place at the same time, dealing with the same case, yet Simonson’s directions take him to uncover the clues with Holmes.

The story doesn’t tell us when or how Holmes comes back into Watson’s life. All we know that at some point he does, as the story jumps several times to the 1920s where they are partially retired, but still take on some cases.

A strong plot and characters, a logical progression of events, a clear summation of motives and the events and causes that led up to the crime, and historical events and people makes this a satisfying and informative read.

Those that are fans of Sherlock Holmes would enjoy this series I believe, as it offers a different side to the Holmes series. And those that enjoy a good ole fashioned mystery with some classic sleuthing and deduction…

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Steven Philip Jones for providing me with a copy for this book.

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Published by sharlene25

Sharlene Almond is the author of the genre-bending Annabella Cordova series, and a New Zealand travel book Journey in little Paradise. She has written a range of health, writing and body language articles; contributing as a guest writer on other blogs. Over the last ten years, Sharlene has attained qualifications in Body Language, Criminology, Journalism, Editing, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Pet Care, and Animal Behaviour. While setting up an online nutritional business, she is studying to specialize in Medicinal Cannabis and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sharlene is also currently editing her second Annabella Cordova novel, with two others in the works. To support her online business, Sharlene sends out a trimonthly newsletter covering health, body language, writing, and even articles centered on health topics for your pet.

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