Arthur Hall eased into the ranks of Sherlock Holmes pastiches with an initial short story, followed by a few obscure Holmes novels. But following his first appearance in “The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories”, he has been like a man on fire, writing a great number of new Holmes stories in the completely correct Watsonian voice. Now comes his latest in the long form, his sixth Holmes novel.
The police are looking for a vigilante – a killer who takes it upon him- or herself to exact punishment on criminals who may have gotten away with it too easily. Killers released from prison early – or avoiding jail completely due to legal trickery – are soon visited by the Justice Master, with his own brand of terminal justice, and the police are concerned. Inspector Lestrade brings Holmes and Watson into the case. After a number of moves in the chess-like game of strategy that follows, Holmes satisfyingly solves the case – but there may still be a surprise left . . . .
I’m already looking forward to Hall’s next efforts, but for those who haven’t encountered his Holmes books yet, this is a great place to start.
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Inspector Lestrade brings Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson an account of six murders. The only fact common to them all is that the victims had all served terms of imprisonment for serious crimes. It appears that someone believes that they should have suffered execution, and has set out to take the law into his own hands. A note is found, signed ‘The Justice Master’, warning that he will not be deterred from his purpose, nor does he spare anyone who gets in his way. The inspector is angry with his superiors because he feels that their efforts to apprehend this man have been insufficient, hence his consultation with The Great Detective. The murders continue and Holmes, with the occasional interference of an Old Bailey solicitor, Mr David Grantly-Knight, resolves to bring the killer to justice. The Justice Master proves to be as elusive as he is merciless, and narrowly escapes a trap set by Holmes and Lestrade. Then comes an encounter near Plantain Castle.