I adore a good crime novel. The thrill of the chase, solving a trail of clues and connecting the dots. The inner workings of a detective’s mind has always fascinated me. How they see the tiny details so clearly and use logic, facts and evidence to bring justice for the unfortunate victims of crime. Come dear reader, the game is afoot.
Today I am reviewing The Druid of Death: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure ( Published by MX Publishing 17 Sept. 2018 ) By Richard T. Ryan. A big thank you to the author for my copy to review, always appreciated. Who’s ready for some crime solving? Deerstalker hats at the ready!
The Druid of Death: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure
On the morning of the vernal equinox in 1899, Holmes is roused from his bed by Lestrade. The inspector has received a report of a girl brutally murdered at Stonehenge.
Upon arriving at the famed site, Holmes discovers the body of a young woman. On her forehead, painted in blood, is a druidic symbol. On her side, also in blood, is a message written in a strange language that neither Holmes nor Lestrade can decipher. The girl was also eviscerated and her organs placed around her body. As a final touch, branches from yew trees had been artistically arranged around the corpse.
Holmes senses a malevolent force at work, but without data, he is powerless. As the weeks pass, he slowly gathers information about the ancient druids and Celtic mythology and begins to assemble a small army of experts to assist him.
Expecting the killer to strike again on the summer solstice, Holmes and Watson travel to the Nine Ladies in Derbyshire, the site of another stone circle that harkens to druidic times. While they are holding their vigil, Lestrade and his men are off keeping watch over the stone circles at Avebury and several other locations.
The Great Detective’s worst fears are realized when on the morning of the summer solstice, he learns that the body of a young man has been discovered in the eye of the White Horse of Uffington. Like the first victim, he too has been marked with a druidic symbol and his body bears a message. Aside from the symbol and the message, the only other difference appears to be that his body and organs have been surrounded by willow branches.
Realizing full well that a maniac reminiscent of the Ripper is on the loose, Holmes and Watson find themselves in a race against time as they try to locate the cult, identify the killer and prevent another tragedy.
Sherlock Holmes has and will always be one of my favourite detectives in literature. I have adored every single adventure, each one with him and the ever faithful Watson (and sometimes the loveable Toby) more daring and dangerous than the last. Holmes’ cases have always left me hungry for more and as luck should have it I have stumbled upon this new mystery involving the dramatic duo. Murder, rituals and the Druids; what are we waiting for? Let’s go!
The reader is introduced to the concept that the author won a bid in Scotland on a locked box. This made me smile as at the time when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his stories, the public strongly believed that Holmes was a real person. This slight nod is pleasing to read. Once Ryan opened the box he discovered a concealed compartment with the untold stories of Holmes as told by Watson.
This case sees Holmes and Watson sent to Stonehenge where a ritual murder has taken place. On an altar lies the naked body of a young woman, her organs arranged around her with painted druidic symbols. She died from a single stab to the heart. With little clues to go on, Holmes and Watson find themselves entering dangerous territory as they scour Britain’s most mysterious landmarks in search of the killer before they strike again.
It was nostalgic to hear the narrative of Watson once again as he gives his account on a Holmes case. I have always enjoyed reading from his point of view as it works perfectly. Watson is an educated man, a doctor, yet when compared to Holmes he is placed at a slight disadvantage, similar to the reader. They can relate because no one ever really knows what goes on in the mind of Holmes. Watson admires his friend’s intelligence and determination. The reader like Watson is constantly learning new and rational ways of deciphering the truth. Ryan includes this trait in his writing and it is a delight to read.
It has all the classic ingredients that concoct a Holmes tale. There were many a time I had to remind myself that this was not written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as I got lost and caught up in the story. Of course no one can ever compare to Doyle, he is in a class all on his own. Ryan pays homage to the classic with his own personal tribute respectfully. The reader is once again greeted by familiar faces such as Lestrade and Mrs. Hudson with the familiar surroundings of 221B Baker Street. It breathes new life and passion into a timeless favourite.
I found myself falling into the trap that Watson often faces, seeing but not observing. One of Holmes’ famous techniques along with not assuming and using facts to make his point. The reader soon finds themselves thinking and observing like Holmes. It’s difficult not to as the more time you spend alongside him, the clearer things become.
As the reader follows behind like a trusted blood hound. They are faced with danger and uncertainty as to what or whom they are chasing. They learn of the Druids and witness the strange symbols that are left behind. It sends shivers down the spine. With unnerving historical locations as the back drop it makes you wonder if there is something far more sinister at play. The lack of clues and connections only adds to the ever building tension as Holmes closes in on his prey.
I give The Druid of Death: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure By Richard T. Ryan a Four out of Five paw rating.
Another thrilling, heart-pounding adventure with the much beloved Watson and Holmes, Ryan has excelled in his talents as a writer. He keeps in theme with the famous traits of each character and builds a story that is tastefully in line with the accounts of Holmes. I highly recommend to all lovers of Sherlock and crime. Filled with suspense and a compelling narrative, you won’t be disappointed.
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