THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES: A Mystery Featuring Shadwell Rafferty

Larry Millett, Author . Viking $23.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-670-03140-5

In his disappointing fifth pastiche (after 2001's Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance), Millett places Holmes and Watson in situations better suited to an Indiana Jones movie, with hairbreadth escapes, gun battles, chases and death traps. He removes most of the mystery by interrupting Watson's own first-person storytelling with third-person narratives that leave little doubt as to the identities and motives of the stock-villain criminals. Elsie Cubitt, from Doyle's "The Adventure of the Dancing Men," becomes a love interest for the misogynistic detective. When she disappears, the clues, including the famous dancing men code, seem to point to a spurned suitor. Soon, however, an elaborate scheme to frame Holmes for Elsie's abduction, a related murder and several other crimes propels the legendary pair to New York, dogged by press accusations and a figure masquerading as Holmes. Neither the master sleuth nor Millett's own creation, Shadwell Rafferty, who dominated the plot of Secret Alliance, does much deducing. Uncanonical attributes ascribed to Holmes only detract from the power of the original. Because the Baker Street duo are sure to emerge triumphant, there's little suspense to engage the reader. Since his excellent debut, Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon, the author has been straining ever harder for plausible ways to send Holmes to America. It may be time for Millett to transform this fully into a Shadwell Rafferty series—or to apply his talents to a new series altogether. Agents, Al Eisele and Bob Barnett. (Oct. 14)

Reviewed on: 10/07/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 448 pages - 978-0-14-200340-4
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