Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwhistle

Arthur Conan Doyle has just killed off Sherlock Holmes in “The Final Problem,” and he immediately becomes one of the most hated men in London. So when he is contacted by a medium “of some renown” and asked to investigate a murder, he jumps at the chance to get out of the city. The only thing is that the murder hasn’t happened yet—the medium, one Hope Thraxton, has foreseen that her death will occur at the third séance of a meeting of the Society for Psychical Research at her manor house in the English countryside.

Along for the ride is Conan Doyle’s good friend Oscar Wilde, and together they work to narrow down the list of suspects, which includes a mysterious foreign Count, a levitating magician, and an irritable old woman with a “familiar.” Meanwhile, Conan Doyle is enchanted by the plight of the capricious Hope Thraxton, who may or may not have a more complicated back-story than it first appears. As Conan Doyle and Wilde participate in séances and consider the possible motives of the assembled group, the clock ticks ever closer to Hope’s murder, in The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle.

E-galley received for review.

I'm a Sherlock Holmes fan so when I came across this I had to check it out.  It sounded intriguing at the very least.  Well, it was intriguing and vaguely entertaining but I wasn't overly impressed.

I think we all know that in real life Conan Doyle was a whiny brat who resented his creation, Sherlock Holmes, but the author harped on it constantly in the book.  Conan Doyle crabbed about how people were horrified when he up and murdered Holmes, whined that he wanted to do "real writing", blah, blah, blah. Of course, you didn't see him giving back any of the money that he made from his creation.  Nope.  Such a tough life Conan Doyle.  Boo hoo.

His whiny attitude in addition to his callous treatment of his wife - she's on her deathbed and he's off to the country to spend a week at a frivolous psychical research retreat and to save a beautiful and young Lady - made him more than a bit unlikable.  Tolerable, but unlikable.

Conan Doyle's Watson was played by Oscar Wilde in all his shameless and tasteless glory. I know the basics of Wilde's shenanigans in real life and this was simply a parody of them.  He was, again, whiny but at least he had some charm while Conan Doyle was just an ass.  There was a lovely scene with Conan Doyle riding in Wilde's coach with Wilde's wife and Wilde's latest flavor of the week and his wife took said flavor shopping with her.  Um, yeah, I don't think so.  So, Wilde was not only a complete jerk in real life, his fictional self was as well.  Oh, and the author has him portrayed as some sort of charming Captain Jack type omnisexual when he was just out and out gay in real life and married a woman and had children with her despite this.  So, he wasn't all that much more sympathetic than Conan Doyle.

In any case, despite the horrible character and behavior of the characters they were written well with just a few continuity and setting related errors in evidence.  The story was reasonably good and rather entertaining, if far fetched.  The "big twist" was a bit obvious, the author is no Conan Doyle himself, but still amusing to see it unfold.

All in all this was a good effort and worth a look.  If you're a hardcore Holmes fan though you may want to give this a pass as the incessant Holmes bashing can quickly become wearying.

★★☆☆ = Liked It


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