Book Review - Sherlock Holmes at Lincoln's Tomb

Posted by Steve Emecz on

Sherlock Holmes at Lincoln's Tomb by John Raffensperger is a thrilling crime fiction story set in 1878. The story is related to the reader from Arthur Conan Doyle's diary, where he recorded the intriguing events that happened between September and December 1878.

Arthur Conan Doyle, Dr. Joseph Bell's medical assistant at the University of Edinburgh, is always thrilled at Dr. Bell's excellent observation skills and diagnosis. But what surprises him most is how Sherlock Holmes, a scientist working in Dr. Bell's lab, makes perfect diagnoses and even helps to solve criminal cases just by observation. One day, a letter arrives from America inviting Dr. Bell to come and deliver lectures on the surgical techniques practiced in Edinburgh at the Rush Medical College, Chicago. Angus Duncan, who sent the letter, adds that he wishes Dr. Bell to help him solve a personal matter about the murders of his employees. As a result, Dr. Bell, Arthur, and Sherlock both leave for America.

After some time in the US, Dr. Bell had to return to Edinburgh. Hence, he asks Arthur and Sherlock to stay back in America and continue with the investigations. Arthur and Sherlock soon discover that the murders are only a part of a bigger scheme by ex-confederate officers to assassinate the president. However, Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes first need to stay alive to solve the murders and save the president.

I am in awe of how this author managed to make every event in the book intriguing. The actions began from the get-go and continued to the end of the story. The plotline is also cohesive and with nerve-wracking events that make the reading experience unforgettable. Since the author presented the tale as recorded in Arthur's diary, the narrations are in the first-person point of view. I enjoyed this style because it made the narrations more realistic and artistic.

What I like most about this book is the inclusion of historical events and real-life organizations and people in the story. For example, the use of Pinkertons, a private detective agency popular in America at the time, in the book gave me a feeling of how the agency operated at that time. Also, the James Gang, renowned for robberies in the nineteenth century, made the narrations seem like a real-life account.

Furthermore, I must commend the author for the excellent characterization, which is evident in how I feared for the characters' safety and got angry anytime one of them wandered off or tried to solve the case alone. The characters are life-like, and their dialogues are natural and distinct. My favorite character is Arthur; he is relatable and excellently portrays the life of a young man who needs a medical career to escape poverty but is also hungry for some adventure and arts. The other characters are also as exciting, and they all impressively played their roles, making the book hard to put down.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and must commend the author for the vivid descriptions in it. The environment, characters, and events are easy to visualize. I felt like an eyewitness to the events unfolding but helplessly couldn't warn my favorite characters of imminent danger. In conclusion, I didn't dislike anything about the book, even though I found some editing errors in it. Therefore, I rate Sherlock Holmes at Lincoln's Tomb four out of four stars. I highly recommend it to lovers of fast-paced crime fiction stories with real-life historical elements and a captivating writing style. Nevertheless, if you find graphic descriptions of surgery and autopsy in books off-putting, you should consider skipping this one. Otherwise, happy reading!


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The recently unearthed diaries of the young Arthur Conan Doyle provide evidence, if not proof of the that Doyle knew Sherlock Holmes as early as 1878, when Holmes was working in the laboratory of Dr. Joseph Bell at the University of Edinburgh. Holmes, a brilliant scientist and an astute medical diagnostician had either dropped out or had been expelled from a London medical school.

This, the first diary, records the adventures of Doyle and Holmes, when they accompany Dr. Bell to Chicago. Dr. Bell gives lectures and demonstrates his surgical technique with Doyle’s assistance.  Holmes deduces the cause of death in a victim who collapsed on the street and Doyle becomes involved with the local medical students. Together, Doyle and Holmes uncover a plot by ex-confederate officers to assassinate the president and take over the United States.    

The story demonstrates Holmes’ amazing skills of observation, diagnosis, his ability to solve crimes and his dogged pursuit of criminals. During this adventure young Arthur Conan Doyle encounters his friend, Robert Louis Stevenson, is abducted by the James gang, falls in love with a red haired Scottish lass and survives a harrowing ride in a hot air balloon.     


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