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Friday, February 24, 2012
Tales of Mystery and Horror
Like Arthur Conan Doyle, David Ruffle writes both mysteries and tales of the supernatural -- and sometimes both in one yarn. And with him, good things come in small packages.
Ruffle has written two books of short stories and edited a third. Sherlock Holmes and the Lyme Regis Horror and Sherlock Holmes and the Lyme Regis Legacy both take their name from a novelette or short novel that begins the collection.
Thse title pieces are, of course, pastiches. They are well done and demonstrate and Ruffle's solid mastery of the source material. He captures and feel and the language of the original very well, while carrying forward a Watsonian love story of his own invention. My only problem was with the punctuation, which is rather comma-deprived.
One of the shorter pieces, "The Mystery of Loch Ness" in Horror, contains a priceless piece of dialogue that gets the Holmesian sarcasm just right:
"Holmes," I said. "I know what you are thinking."
"How novel. Pray, continue."
The shorter stories, some only three or four pages long and most of them invoking the supernatural, are my favorites. "Forever 1895" in Horror is delightful and "The End of Things" in Legacy is moving. Both involve Holmes and Watson, as do other supernatural tales and several humorous sketches.
The stories, particularly in the new book (Legacy), that do not involve our favorite detective duo tend more toward being horror stories. They are appropriately horrifying. I think A.C.D. would have enjoyed them all.