It seems that the only books our H.Q. lets me have any more are Sherlock Holmes or Conan Doyle related ones. I have done four this year. This is the fifth and I have three more on the go. Please don’t think I’m moaning, I’m really not. I love Sherlock Holmes, the more I learn about Conan Doyle the more he intrigues me, but it’s the different takes on the characters I love the most. Our friends at Titan Books are by far the best publishing house for the rather different Doyle related book, and it is one from them I review today.
Vaughn Entwistle is a new author to me. I haven't had the chance to read his debut novel, Victorian thriller Angel of Highgate, yet so I go into this book with no prior knowledge of what to expect style wise. To give me some clue though is the novel’s full title - The Revenant of Thraxton Hall:The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Paranormal? Doyle? Colour me intrigued.
We find a mid-thirties Conan Doyle, with an ailing wife, who has just killed off Sherlock Holmes in The Final Problem. This leads to him becoming a figure of hate in London especially and, before something tragic can happen to him, he receives an intriguing invitation to a country manor. Hope Thraxton is a medium and owner of the gothic mansion, Thraxton Hall, set in the remote countryside. Hope has had a premonition of her own death with Conan Doyle in attendance, so invites the great man to come and investigate at the forthcoming meeting of The Society of Psychical Research. Doyle brings along his good friend Oscar Wilde and, together, they narrow down a list of suspects that includes a levitating magician and a foreign count. Doyle is drawn to Hope, infatuated even, but is the Lady of Thraxton Hall with the cursed family all she seems?
This was a very enjoyable read indeed. The paranormal elements mentioned in the title were there throughout, which is refreshing as many books that call themselves paranormal lose the feel half way through. Doyle is well written and Oscar Wilde, in the almost Dr. Watson role, was a brave and exciting choice which works incredibly well. The setting itself is reminiscent of any ye olde gothic ghost story and Entwistle proves himself a very capable provider of atmosphere.
Whether dyed in the wool Doyle fans will appreciate the novel is not for me to decide. I personally like the different takes on the characters and this book brings back memories of the Murder Rooms television show of the early 1990's.
If you are an open minded Doyle fan give this novel a read.
Image - Titan.