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“earnest in the investigation”  [RETI]

Who would have thought mixing a traditional Sherlock Holmes pastiche with Oscar Wilde's characters would work so well? Philip Purser-Hallard, that's who. 

I picked up Sherlock Holmes: The Spider's Web because I'd read and enjoyed some of Purser-Hallard's writings on Doctor Who. I was pleasantly surprised to find an authentic-feeling novel with quite the deductions. 

Then a body is found at the Moncrieff house during a ball, and in wanders the cast of The Importance of Being Earnest. It's all the more complicated when the dead man is claimed to be Bunbury. The case that unfolds is one based on gossip and blackmail, as suits the characters. 

I suspect many of you will already know whether you want to read this at this point, whether or not I continue to say that the book is entertaining, with a deft balance between Wilde's facetiousness and Doyle's adventure. If you enjoy both of these authors, you'll definitely want to see Holmes meet Lady Bracknell. 

Thankfully, an author's note lists all the various characters and their Wildean sources, as those from An Ideal Husband, A Woman of No Importance, and Lady Windermere's Fan also appear. 

The connection between Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle is worth a mention here: both attended a dinner at the Langham Hotel with J.M. Stoddart, editor of Lippincott's Monthly, on 30 August 1889. It marked the first meeting between Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde and eventually resulted in The Sign of Four and The Picture of Dorian Gray, both initially published in Lippincott's.

The Adventures Continue

After this book, Purser-Hallard wrote Sherlock Holmes: Masters of Lies, a wonderfully twisty double-cross on the reader. Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and Mycroft Holmes investigate the suicide of a supposed spy, caught up with various document forgeries. It came out from Titan in May 2022. Both books are recommended. 

Sherlock Holmes: The Spider's Web by Philip Purser-Hallard, published by Titan Books, October 2020, is available in paperback and Kindle format on Amazon.