Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Dead Rabbits Society
I usually buy new Holmes books expecting to be either greatly or at least somewhat disappointed. Not many measure up to
the originals by the master, A. Conan Doyle. Some are just average detective stories with the name Sherlock Holmes spliced into it. Not even the series of short tales written years back by Doyle’s son and John Dickson Carr approached the originals in style and tone. They were interesting mysteries yes, but not true Sherlockian tales. I was happily pleased therefore to find that Carraher’s book captures the “true” Sherlock Holmes. I could almost believe it was the “real” John Watson himself who wrote it.
For the first time we learn that Holmes, during the time he was “missing” (in hiding) from the threat of death from Moriarty’s men, made his way to New York City, and took up residence under the name of Simon Hawkes in a men’s-only club in lower Manhattan called “The Dead Rabbits Society”. While there, of course, he continued to exercise his amazing deductive abilities to solve crimes.
Here he is approached by Franklin Dunmore, a small bookworm of a man, who tells him he has been attacked twice. Much to the reclusive Dunmore’s amazement, he has an enemy! Someone is trying to kill him! Holmes a.k.a. Hawkes decides to investigate and is thereby thrown into the midst of a cunning murder plot in which nothing is quite what it seems. The crime is solved eventually by Holmes through the powers of his deductive reasoning, as all Holmes mysteries should be solved. The police, of course, were off on the wrong track totally. Even New York, it seems, had its share of inept Inspector Lastrades.
Carraher gets the “feel” of 1890’s New York City right, and offers us, in addition to a fine mystery, interesting written “snapshots” of what the city and society was like then. A time when poor people died of disease in crowded tenements and a time when women still fought for the right to vote. More important, Carraher gets close to the Doyle style of writing. Readers of the Sherlock Holmes tales as written by Doyle might be impressed with how much the writing here is reminiscent of the originals.
The ending is unique, to my knowledge, in Holmes stories, and I can’t give it away, but I found it consistent with the Holmes’ character as defined by Doyle. This is a really good book.