I’ve seen a lot of Sherlock Holmes plays of varying quality, but I’ve never seen one like “Sherlock Holmes at the Alamo.” Neither have you.
For starters, Holmes uses time travel to go to the aid of Davey Crockett and company.
“What object is served by the circle of misery and violence and fear?” said Holmes, looking over the future battle site. “It must tend to some end, or else or universe is ruled by –”“Santa Anna, by the looks of it,” said Dr. Watson in a Texas drawl that drew a hearty chuckle from the audience.
Oh, and Holmes is played by a 12-year-old girl named Lydia, who also wrote the play.
That’s just part of the fun, a minor bit of amusing byplay in Kathleen Kaska’s new Murder at the Driskill (LL-Publications). Like the first three mysteries in her Sydney Lockhart series, the latest is a highly entertaining mash-up of screwball comedy (think 1930s movies) and Texas noir.
Murder at the Driskill finds Sydney, an intrepid 1950’s newspaper reporter, with a new gig in addition to her day job at the Austin American. She and her boyfriend, former cop Ralph Dixon, and their associate Billy Ludlow have formed their own private detective agency in Austin.
One of their first clients is a rancher who wants them to investigate his business partner, who is also his brother-in-law. Before they can even begin, the subject is shot and killed at the Driskill Hotel just as he is expected to declare his candidacy for governor of Texas. His wife confesses to the murder, but nobody believes she did it – including their client, who now wants them to prove his sister-in-law’s innocence.
Sydney and Ralph’s investigation turns up lots of motives – for killing their client. Everybody liked the victim, including his wife.
The 1950s were seldom as exciting as in this fast-paced and funny mystery, which is packed with action right to the end. The central problem around which the story revolves is an intriguing one and the solution is satisfying. What will bring you back to the next Sydney Lockhart novel, though, are the snappy dialogue and a cast of memorable characters – the child prodigy Lydia not least among them.
If you’re tired of the 21st Century, or just need a little break from it, pour yourself a martini and open Murder at the Driskill for the perfect escape.