By: Murray Shaw and M. J. Cosson
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Publication Date: August 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: September 2010
The streets outside 221B Baker Street were dark as Helen Stoner approached and pounded on the door of the home of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. They thought the chill of the night air made her tremble, but rather she said, “It is terror.” Naturally Holmes knew a lot about her even before she opened her mouth as he was an excellent detective who could tell a lot from very simple clues other people might overlook. Helen quickly caught them up on why she had come for their help. She, her twin sister, Julia, her mother and stepfather, Dr. Grimesby Roylott, had once lived in India, but the only two survivors in the family were she and her stepfather. What concerned her was the unusual death of her sister and the strange goings on at Stoke Moran.
Dr. Roylott, who had once murdered a man, was now an eccentric recluse. He rarely spoke and when he did it was with a band of gypsies camped out near the house. He also owned a cheetah and a baboon that roamed the grounds. Holmes’s interest was piqued and he urged her to tell him every little detail she could remember surrounding the mysterious death of her sister, Julia. Helen carefully told him about the fateful night that her sister had died of fright. There was that terrified scream, a “low whistle,” and a “clanging metal sound.” As Julia was in the throes of death she had pointed to her stepfather’s room and said, “Oh, Save me, Helen! It was the speckled band!” What was she talking about?
Helen was frightened because recently, in the dead of night, she “heard that same whistle.” “Fweet!” She somehow knew that death awaited her too. A motive needed to be found and Stoke Moran needed to be explored, but before they could approach the home, Dr. Grimesby Roylott came to threaten them. It was going to be dangerous and Dr. Watson would be carrying a gun. Julia’s room was quickly examined and a few things caught Holmes’s eye. There was a dummy bedpull, a useless vent, and a bed that was bolted to the floor. Holmes knew exactly what had killed Julia, but would Helen be spared the same fate?
This ingenious, intriguing mystery at the creepy Stoke Moran with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson is a real winner. This mystery was so tricky that I had no idea as to what any of the clues meant until the very end. Of course in the back of the book there is a section that explains exactly how Holmes figured out how each of these unusual clues factored into the death of Julia and threatened the life of her sister, Helen. The dark, Victorian artwork meshed very well with this tale and gave just enough of a spooky aura to make it very interesting. The revival of this classic duo, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, just may garner a whole new generation of fans with this series. In the front of the book we read about the history of the books and a bit about these unusually interesting friends. In the back of the book are additional recommended book and website resources.
Quill says: If you have a young mystery buff who likes a bit of murder, mayhem, and an intriguing mystery, this is one series you might want to look into!