Book Review – Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Undead Client by M.J. Downing

This ramshackle cobbling together of different genres is an injustice to Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.

Advanced Review Copy (ARC)

  • Title: Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Undead Client
  • Series: Book One Of The Unpublished Case File Of John H. Watson, M.D.
  • Author: M.J. Downing
  • Genre: Historical Fiction , Mystery & Thrillers
  • Source: NetGalley
  • Publication Date:  1 Jun 2019
  • Publisher: Burns & Lea Books
  • Format: ebook

Sherlock Holmes has only been deceased a month when Dr. John Watson, still grieving, recounts his final case with Holmes. A terrifying mystery, it sends Watson and Holmes into the dark reaches of London’s back alleys – and the human soul. It begins when Anne Prescott, a lovely Scottish nurse, begs Sherlock Holmes and Watson to help her find her fiancé and her sister, who have gone missing in the teeming streets of London. Immediately, Watson feels an attraction to her that shocks him. Newly married to Mary, and deeply in love with her, he struggles to put Anne out of his mind.

As Watson and Holmes dig into the slums and sewers of London looking for Anne’s fiancé and sister, they uncover a deadly web of bloody murders, horrific medical experiments, and even voodoo ritual that threatens not only London, but the entire British empire, and beyond. Watson must call on his unique combination of expertise in the medical sciences, as well as his military training to stop this killer before London —and Anne — are lost to the killer’s bloody plan. But time is short and the mystery ever more complex.

How can he manage his feelings for Anne? What about his loyalty to Mary? He can’t have both

My rating for this wavered because initially when the mystery started, I liked it.  I like the world of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.  I know it moderately well, their characteristics and foibles, their associates and enemies and their way of life. 

So I was comfortable with the environment and thought The Case of the Undead Client, would provide an odd twist that would be entertaining at the very least.   I was not concerned with the focus less on Holmes and more on Watson.  What perturbed me was when Dr Watson beginning to behave inexplicably, rashly and distinctly against type. 

Until all regard finally, plummeted to “I’m not enjoying this at all and it is ruining my memories – and good feelings – for this duo”. 

Unsavoury and tawdry sprung to mind.

I struggled with this Dr Watson who I do not remember being so amorous. Yes he was more emotional than Holmes but not to the extent that he would be instantaneously infatuated with a new client and act- newly married – on that infatuation.

I found it odd in the extreme.  Nor even in the book is it explicitly explained why Dr Watson is behaving the way he is.  It seems to come from nowhere, poorly explained and treated as not untoward.

Also Holmes is in my opinion ‘different’? Is a welcome or added change or a pleasant character development? I’m not so sure.

On paper the blending of Sherlock Holmes, Voodoo, Zombies and Jack The Ripper sounds fascinating but the implementation of trying to shoe horn them all into a plausible story was not.

Sherlock Holmes’ solo act, Dr Watson perplexing behaviour, Zombie enchantress Anne’s mysterious allure which is never fully explained to my satisfaction,  all seemed to point to primarily  writing a new interpretation of the Jack the Ripper mystery, rather than embellishing the Holmes canon. 

How can we put a new spin on that, given the starting point was Sherlock Holmes and end point the murders conducted by Jack The Ripper.

All that came between was the dull attempts to make that work.  It is two stars because it is reads well,  but is overly long. Appears well researched –  although I am unsure of the Jamaican who spoke French.  Which is frustrating as it had the potential to be an amusing if far fetched scheme had it not misused the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, instead of starting afresh and using characters who demonstrated why they behaved the way they did.

Doing so relegated it to the never to recommend or reread pile.

My thanks to NetGalley and Burns & Lea Books for an ARC of this book in exchange for a candid review

2 stars – it was okay

Engrossed Reader

Female, in her 40's who reads when she can, often to the detriment of sleep. Enjoying most genres and formats with a preference for ebooks, mainly for convenience

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