The Execution of Sherlock Homes by Donald Thomas

Why I Read It: Was curious if Holmes would really die.

Where I Got It: Review copy from the publisher through AudiobookJukebox

Who I Recommend This To: Sherlock Holmes mystery fans.

Narrator: John Telfer

Publisher: AudioGO (2011)

Length: 11 hours 45 minutes

I have been a fan of the Sherlock genre of fanfiction for some time. While I have tried from time to time to appreciate the original Arthur Conan Doyle works, I have just never found them as in depth, well-crafted, or entertaining as what other writers have done with Doyle’s base for Sherlock Holmes. That said, Donald Thomas did an excellent job of continuing on the deeds of Holmes and Watson in this collection of 5 short stories. Thomas caught the flavor of the times in speech, setting, and social inequities. The author also added an unexpected aspect in that not all mysteries were solved completely.

This collection starts with The Execution of Sherlock Holmes in which several of Holmes enemies join forces, capture him, enact a parody of a lengthy trial, and then plan to end his life. Sherlock, of course, is on his own to escape from this wayward vengeance. I found this to be an interesting story in the collection, but not my favorite. This tale cast Sherlock as something of a Superman, able to memorize, recall, and analyze minutiae without flaw, fight off nightly drugging, and eventually accomplish a physical feat for which I doubt he had much training. Sometimes Holmes is just too good at everything; I like my main characters flawed.

That said, I still found this collection to be engaging. These 5 tales occur in the late 1890s/early 1900s. My favorite involved Holmes sleuthing around to prevent an innocent man from being hanged for the death of a pregnant, unwed lady. I especially enjoyed the comments about how country folk arrange their lives over the rising and setting of the sun (which is so true). Of course, Holmes and Watson had other cases closer to home, such as the charismatic magician, his accomplice, and a sly use of poison. Holmes also gets his chance to match wits with some masters of espionage involving classified info on Britain’s mighty battleships. The final installment in this collection has Holmes going up against a Moriarty in a complicated case of jewelry theft.

Our narrator, John Telfer, has a lovely British reading voice. He affected a mild, high-IQ voice for Holmes. (Yes, one can sound smart when one needs to.) The best performance of his voice range came through in the story set in the countryside with all the provincial accents. Not all the time, but sometimes, the voices for Watson, Inspector Lestrade, and Holmes blended together. If I was making a difficult turn through a light and blinked out of the book for a few seconds, when I came back I would have to concentrate on which character was which. This didn’t happen throughout the book, but rather when the three were in discussion.

What I Liked: the mysteries were complex and nuanced and I didn’t guess the end for any of them; the flavor of the time and characters; the references to the original Doyle stories; Watson is the narrator.

What I Disliked: No strong female characters; sometimes Sherlock is too much of a Superman.

Comments are always appreciated, so don't be shy!