The first book of 2011 was finished last week and surprise, shock horror, it was a Sherlock Holmes pastiche. This offering, Night Watch by Stephen Kendrick sees Holmes and Watson summoned by Mycroft to a shadowy London church where an ecclesiastical gathering of representatives there on behalf of many of the popular religions on earth is disturbed by the brutal murder of the Rev. Paul Appel.
Appel is the host of the event and his mutilated corpse is as much a mystery as to why he was killed as by who.
Kendrick is an American churchman and treads on what will be familiar ground to him by introducing Father Brown as a third, albeit peripheral, member of the investigative team.
In all honesty, this is a pretty bland offering. The story is strung out and there are times when it appears even Kendrick is getting a bit bored with the investigation, almost apologising through Watson for the unrevealing interviews for example. As well as this, there are some pretty basic mistakes made by Holmes (allowing suspects to escape, not spotting obvious clues) that just shouldn’t happen. This is further compounded by the reveal at the end which is quite simply preposterous but to explain would spoil the book.
Kendrick did appear to have a good basis for a decent short story but in the end bringing Father Brown in did nothing for the overall narrative, except to slow it down, and despite the fact the story is set over little more than 12 hours, it felt a lot longer.