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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Review: Sherlock Holmes and the Lyme Regis Legacy

Sherlock Holmes and the Lyme Regis Legacy
By David Ruffle
Reviewed by Amy Thomas
The Baker Street Babes

The second Lyme Regis outing by Sherlockian David Ruffle finds Watson again making his way to the coastal town, only to become tangled in a series of murders that mimic the methods of some of Holmes’s most famous cases. The detective soon joins him in Lyme Regis, and the two enlist Inspector Lestrade’s help as they track down a murderer and solve a case with close ties to The Hound of the Baskervilles. After this novella-length adventure concludes, the book, like Ruffle’s previous title, is rounded out by several short
stories.

One particularly welcome aspect of the novel is Ruffle’s liberal use of humor, which is sprinkled throughout the main novella and the subsequent stories, some of which are outright parodies. Also of note are the engaging characterizations of Mycroft Holmes and Inspector Lestrade, who are realized in canonical and three-dimensional ways.

Legacy is more of a companion novel than a sequel to Sherlock Holmes and the Lyme Regis Horror, thought its action is set in the same location at a later time. Knowledge of the previous book’s plot is a helpful, though unnecessary, component of the reading experience. In addition, fans of The Hound of the Baskervilles will particularly enjoy the well-researched references, but those unfamiliar with that story will not find this one difficult to understand.

Perhaps Ruffle’s greatest departure from his previous book is that he chooses to eschew the supernatural in his primary story, a factor that may make the book more enjoyable for those who are not fond of Holmes combined with the paranormal. Some of the short stories return to the supernatural theme, and they read like traditional, spine-chilling, ghost stories.

The most touching aspect of the book is a section of stories that concern Holmes and Watson in very old age. Many Sherlockians enjoy the idea of a world in which the doctor and the detective live forever, but Ruffle does not shy away from bringing them up against the inevitability of aging and death, and he does so in a meaningful way.

Sherlock Holmes and the Lyme Regis Legacy is more editorially polished than its predecessor and equally well conceived by a man who clearly loves both Sherlock Holmes and the town of Lyme Regis. In its pages, we encounter once again the voice of the Watson we know and love.

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