cover image Haunting of Torre Abbey

Haunting of Torre Abbey

Carole Bugge. Minotaur Books, $22.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-312-24557-3

In her second attempt to capture the spirit of Holmes and Watson, Bugge is more successful than in her first, The Star of India, but nonetheless the novel is marred by a mawkish sensibility not present in the original series. This time the Great Detective and his sidekick return to the site of The Hound of the Baskervilles, where they confront a strange household haunted by another figure out of legend--the ghost of a monk decapitated in the 14th century. Situated in Devon, the Torre Abbey monastery was converted in the 17th century into the manor house of the aristocratic Cary family. Three family members--siblings Charles and Elizabeth and their recently widowed mother, Marion--still live there with their small staff: a cook and her bastard son, a chambermaid and a butler. Lord Charles entreats Holmes to visit after he and his fragile sister see a ghost. Holmes quickly ascertains that everyone in the small household has a secret, but he and Watson must still conduct a seance, a foxhunt and a walk on the moor to uncover the human agents behind apparently supernatural events and a very real murder. Once again Bugge's careful period descriptions capture the trappings and incidentals of Conan Doyle's novels, but readers will find her version of Holmes a bit more sentimental and not as sharp as the indelible original. Agent, Susan Ginsburg at Writer's House. (Feb.)