“This is an anthology of tales involving Holmes with conventional Nineteenth Century supernatural occurrences. The ‘Holmes Agency’ has always stood firmly behind the motto, “Ghosts need not apply,” but any number of questionable events pop up in this collection. The lead story, a novella called “The Skull of Kohada Koheiji,” presents Holmes and Watson with ghostly happenings at a Japanese exhibition village in Knightsbridge. The appearance of a Japanese specter in the midst of London does not promote amicable relations between the Japanese Empire and that of Great Britain. In the next novella, “The Ratcliffe Oracle,” an oracle has arisen that makes accurate predictions at no cost to inquirers. The oracle apparently resides in the walls of the house and the owners are allowing in four visitors at a time. Donations are accepted, but are not required and predictions seem to be highly accurate. There also seems to be some connection between the Oracle and some recent crimes but the police are, as usual, baffled. In “The Impulsive Vampire,” Holmes is asked by an old friend of Watson’s to rid her Majesty’s Battleship, Impulsive, of an infestation of Vampires. This task requires many twists and turns, simply to identify the culprits and the results are unexpected, at best. The novella, “The de Gascoigne Mummy,” has Holmes being offered twenty pounds for a twenty-minute consultation by he widow of an Egyptologist. As he and Watson have just finished their Christmas shopping, he accepts the offering and learns of the missing mummy. It seems that his bequest to the British Museum of his collection of Egyptian artifacts is missing one mummy. His widow wants Holmes to “clear the matter up.” The results are surprising all around. The final novella, “The Reckoning of Kit Marlowe,” involves Holmes and Watson with Arthur Conan Doyle. Both Doyle and Inspector Lestrade require Holmes’ help in dealing with the murder of the elder son of Admiral Marlowe. Lestrade has lost the corpse and Doyle wants Holmes to attend the séance at which they will ask the deceased who stabbed him. Events progress and Doyle volunteers to act as literary agent for Watson who wants to write up some of Holmes’ investigations. All of these tales present supernatural aspects. The solutions may or may not rely on ‘dark powers,’ but all require a great deal of thought and effort. Read it and see whether it is still ‘Ghosts need not apply’.” Sherlock Holmes and the Skull of Kohada Koheiji is available from all good bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon and Barnes and Noble, in the UK Amazon and Waterstones. Fans outside the US and UK can get free delivery from Book Depository.
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