Saturday, January 18, 2014

sherlock holmes and the case of sabina hall - 1988

sherlock holmes and the case of sabina hall
by l. b. greenwood

i keep telling myself i'm going to catch up on my sherlock holmes. i've read very little thus far and despite my good intentions i keep getting sidetracked into other pursuits. given that gap in my traditional mystery background i recognize that i may be inclined to judge sherlock holmes imitators differently than someone who is acquainted with more of the real deal.

having said all that, i thought that sherlock holmes and the case of sabina hall was quite a fine piece of work. i wasn't able to locate too much information about the author, but what i found indicates that she is (or was) a schoolteacher based in canada. her other holmes knockoffs include sherlock holmes and the thistle of scotland and sherlock holmes and the case of the raleigh legacy.

as the proceedings get underway, watson takes on an assignment to care for an aging tycoon whose miserly tendencies make ebenezer scrooge seem like an okay guy after all. holmes tags along and by the time they arrive at sabina hall, the old coot is goners and quite possibly not by natural causes. his sister-in-law and sole heir turns out to be just as miserly and wastes no time preparing to dispose of the rickety old hall.

the plot thickens, of course, and a few more bodies stack up, but to reveal too much more would be at risk of throwing out spoilers. and it's not really for the plot, serviceable though it was, that i'd recommend this one. where greenwood really shines is in creating an unremittingly bleak atmosphere, with a drafty, rundown old hall located on the forbidding bristol coast, the weather relentlessly awful, and a group of characters that absolutely would not win any congeniality awards.

but i've always been kind of a sucker for this sort of thing, so in this case the author might just have been preaching to the choir.