cover image Sherlock Holmes and the Sixty Steps

Sherlock Holmes and the Sixty Steps

Séamas Duffy. MX Publishing, $16.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-80424-017-5

Duffy’s superb third pastiche collection (after 2015’s Sherlock Holmes and the Four Corners of Hell) perfectly captures Conan Doyle’s tone. In “The Tragedy of Langhorne Wyke,” Holmes is consulted by a Yorkshire inspector following the fatal fall from a clifftop of a married couple on holiday, who apparently gave false names at the hotel where they were staying. To the Baker Street duo’s surprise, the double murder proves linked to a previous investigation, and Duffy’s own insightful critical reading of the canon enables him to provide a plausible epilogue to one of Holmes’s best-known cases. Other highlights include “The Mystery of the Thirteen Bells,” in which a taunting killer sends Holmes cryptic notes leading the detective to a disturbing array of miscellaneous body parts, and “The Problem of the Coptic Patriarchs,” which fleshes out one of Conan Doyle’s teases about an untold tale. But the standout is the title story, directly inspired by Conan Doyle’s actual involvement in forestalling a miscarriage of justice in the Oscar Slater case, in which a low-level criminal was falsely charged with murder. Duffy merits comparison with Denis Smith and David Marcum, the top current authors penning new Holmes stories. (Sept.)