Sherlock Holmes has been all around the world. In his great hiatus it is speculated that he travelled to places as far flung as Tibet and Alaska in the guise of Sigurdson. Although forever associated with Victorian London, he had travelled extensively through the British Isles and Europe solving some of the most sensitive cases of the time.
In Sherlock Holmes In Paris author Seamas Duffy imagines the Great Detective taking on three cases in the romantic capital of Europe. These cases are all broadly novella length (the book being 260 pages long) and showcase many of the traits, characteristics and style of the ACD work.
Indeed, in his preamble, Duffy unashamedly outlines his approach, for good and ill, in making no apologies for mimicking ACD’s prose and methods in coming to his own take on Holmes.
Like the originals, Duffy overlays his stories with some superfluous descriptions. There is loads on Parisian architecture and cuisine, as well as hamming up Holmes’ more singular personality quirks. It works, but only because it was pre-empted. It is part of what Duffy set out to achieve.
The three stories all carry some merit. The opener, The Adventure of the Nebrodi Sapphire, is a classic closed room case. After a while the solution is obvious, but again, like many ACD’s stories, that is the case too. The beauty of the work in the original canon is as much about how Holmes deduces the crime as anything else.
The first story also introduces a young Corsican lady who comes back in a later story and it feels Duffy has set her up to be his own crime fighting character for future work.
The middle yarn – The Adventure of the Bognor Prestidigitation Circle – is the weakest of the three stories I feel.
However, the closer is the strongest. The Afflictions of Dom Agostinho Mendoca sees Holmes investigate the unusual case of a Portuguese nobleman who is struck with an unexplainable illness. It is irrational and inconsistent. And without doubt Holmes’ solution is just as irrational.
This is a decent collection of stories. The setting of Paris is brought to life well and the stories do align to ACD’s way of presenting Holmes. Duffy writes exceptionally well and there is no shortage of research evident throughout. There are some minor style and prose gripes but in the main Sherlock Holmes in Paris is good enough to admitted in to the Holmes Hall of Fame.