Gerard Williams, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-312-26920-3

You don't have to be a Sherlock Holmes fan to enjoy this absorbing debut novel about Dr. James Mortimer, of The Hound of the Baskervilles fame, and the start of his career as a crime-solver. After the death of his wife, the bereaved Mortimer considers devoting the rest of his days to his hobby of archeology, but his friend Dr. Watson persuades him to take a position as a substitute physician instead. One of Mortimer's first patients is the beautiful, high-strung Lavinia Nancarrow, the ward of a wealthy merchant and former India nabob who's been holding her essentially captive in his home in Aldgate. After joining the staff of Dr. Violet Branscombe's clinic for abused women in Whitechapel, Mortimer and his new colleague team up to investigate the mystery of Lavinia's confinement. In what turns out to be an intriguing case of murder and romance, Williams brings London's East End and India under the Raj vividly to life, while nicely dramatizing the condition of women of different classes in the late Victorian era. A translator by profession, Williams is particularly good at language and his narrative is peppered (but not overseasoned) with obscure and obsolete words (e.g., armigerous, mofussil, larrikin) that should send those who like to expand their vocabularies to their (unabridged) dictionaries. Too many Holmes pastiches or spinoffs fail to do full justice to Conan Doyle's original creation; this is a rare and honorable exception, sure to delight historical mystery readers as well. (Aug. 20)

Reviewed on: 06/25/2001
Release date: 00/00/0000
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4668-7188-5
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