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Many authors have written pastiches fitting Sherlock Holmes into a greater historical context; although most of them center around Victorian England, Charlie Roxburgh attempts to mix some Russian history with Holmesian deduction in The Case of the Russian Chessboard. And although it's a promising premise, the execution is somewhat flat.

Mr. Roxburgh's tale has a great start - in fact, it's almost a pitch perfect recreation of the many tales of the Canon. In fact, the idea of Russian conspirators and tsarist enforcers operating near and around Baker Street not only reflects what Conan Doyle might have written, it provides an ample amount of promise for any Sherlockian reader.

However, although this is a very brief tale, its brevity is one of its major faults. Just as many items are set into motion, the story seems to have a rushed ending. It is not a bad tale - just one that might have been better told as a novel-length adventure rather than as a short novelette. With the "Russian Chessboard" analogy coming into play (with Holmes himself explaining it), there is a great potential that is sadly never met....and that would be a great vantage point for writing a sequel and/or continuation of this story (especially with several themes that might resonate in our present time)
Perhaps this leaves Mr. Roxburgh in a position to expand the story under a sequel or second edition, or perhaps even to execute a series of historical pieces that bring together a number of the geopolitical forces in play in the late Victorian era. There is certainly a plethora of material there.

If you are looking for a pastiche with a fascinating premise, and some sharp writing early on, you might want to consider reading The Case of the Russian Chessboard - it is a very short piece, and available as both a paperback and for the Kindle via Amazon, as well directly from the Sherlock Holmes publishing powerhouse MX Publishing.

Editor's note: Gordon regularly covers the intersection of Sherlock Holmes and the entertainment industry. You can also find him at Blog THIS, Pal! and Comic Related

Disclosure: http://cmp.ly/1 - the author received a review copy of the book above.