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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Great Scots!

A Sherlock Holmes novel built around the quest for Scottish independence is, admittedly, of slightly less interest to most people than it might have been just a couple of months ago, before the great referendum. But those who know me realize that I am not most people.

Mike Hogan's The Scottish Question: Sons of the Thistle caught my interest for three reasons: (a) my mother was of Clan Paterson (although her ancestors became Americans well over 200 years ago), (b) my wife has decided that we are going to Scotland next year to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, and (3) I have enjoyed all of Mike Hogan's other Sherlock Holmes stories.

I wasn't disappointed by my choice. Here's the setup:

It's 1897, Victoria is still on the throne and Sherlock Holmes has been engaged to find the missing Stone of Scone (AKA Stone of Destiny) and the fabled lost Crown of Scotland. Oh, and the Queen's younger son, the Duke of Edinburgh and of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha, and his wife have been abducted. Throw in a great new villain in the person of a Prussian baron and you've got a great story.

The novel is also a good Scottish history lesson, but that never overshadows the story. At the heart of it all is a very clever conceit, and at the end is an exciting climax involving the airship on the cover.

As in other Mike Hogan books, the tone of the writing is more light-hearted than the Arthur Conan Doyle originals, but never quite veers into parody. The author seems to be serious about having fun with Holmes, Watson, the Royals, and the English (I mean British) Government in the person of Mycroft Holmes.   

Sherlock Holmes and The Scottish Question is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository .

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