Imagine a road running up the side of a mountain (a cornishe). It is a well travelled road, that passes many things of note that people love, but maybe its a little too familiar to thrill as much as it once did?
A new road maker wishing to arouse the same emotions, pass the same sites, but from a newer angle - has to avoid three flaws.
If his (or her) road is just the same - there is no point, the old road can be retravelled.
If his (or her) road darts wildly hither and yon, dragging in sights that are far too out of keeping or too distant in location, it will not climb the mountain safely and it may plunge off into the depths.
If his (or her) road leads too steeply upward, it may lose the people climbing for nostagia, as well as their health.
Stuart Douglas' SHERLOCK HOLMES (and the) ALBINO'S TREASURE is brilliant.
It has all the great moments of one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes stories
- the strange event, to whose contemplation Holmes is entreated,
- Holmes in disguise, and Watson's concern
- The attempts on Holmes' life, and their narrow avoidance
- The proof of how much Watson means to Holmes
- Watson's eye for the Ladies.
- The historical background - that historical novelist Doyle brought to the backstories of his mysteries.
Yet it's not just the same:
- It has politics
- It has mysteries in pictures
- It has a hidden secret
- It has the Lord of Strange Deaths
- It has, a certain, Albino master criminal
It's not my favourite *novel* about Holmes by someone who isn't Conan Doyle - that's still Kelly Hale's "Erasing Sherlock", but THE ALBINO TREASURE, is first and foremost a work of adventure and excitement, and for a Holmes book of that kind it is the very best of the ones coming out of the Titan Books' THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES range - which considering they reprinted some sterling works is saying something.
How this can be a first book is genuinely hard to fathom, it's that good!
[A shorter version of this review has been posted on Amazon.co.uk]