The Kentish Manor Murders

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Actor Sheridan Haynes is hired to give a private rendition of his celebrated performance in the role of Sherlock Holmes at Castle Baskerville--the very private and well-guarded retreat of Warren Waymark, an aging American tycoon who collects Holmes memorabilia. A conspiracy is clearly afoot--to begin with, there have been rumors that Waymark is actually dead. Is the frail old man who wears dark glasses even in dimly lit rooms an impostor? Why does such unexpected violence surround the men who ask Haynes to take charge of a photocopy of an unpublished Sherlock Holmes manuscript in the hope that Waymark will purchase the original for a quarter of a million pounds?

Haynes-as-Holmes, along with his wife Valerie as a co-investigator more intelligent (and less admiring) than Watson, has appeared in a previous Julian Symons mystery, A THREE PIPE PROBLEM. The story mixes the classical detective form with whiffs of the thoroughly modern. In addition to the basic locked-room puzzle of the fortified and electronically guarded castle, there are scenes in Copenhagen and Amsterdam that reek of international arms and drug deals. Beneath the action, however, is a core of intellectual puzzle, with ample convolutions, patent disguises, and red herrings aplenty. The cast is also acrawl with Sherlockians, and with the scholarly detail and literary detective work that will make the book essential for fans and followers celebrating the centennial of Sherlock Holmes’s first appearance in print.