Sherlock Book Reviews - Eliminate The Impossible

Posted by Steve Emecz on


An enjoyable read about some of the many adventures of Sherlock Holmes (4/5 stars).

Sherlock Holmes – Eliminate the Impossible is an exciting novel that compiles six short mysteries into a full collection of fun new Sherlock Holmes tales. In The Bleeding Heart Mystery, Holmes and Watson visit the Bleeding Heart Tavern and discover secrets about Medieval London. In The Case of the Impossible Assassin, they become entangled in a political scheme after two Turkish advisors are murdered. In The Adventure of the Cable Street Mummy, Holmes gains possession of the mummified remains of the Shadwell Slaughterer, a well-known murderer from many years ago. In The Backwater Affair, he investigates the theft of plans critical to the British Empire. In Two Goodly Gentlemen, Holmes must decipher how two men burned alive in an unscorched room. Lastly, The Singular Case of Dr. Butler follows Dr. Watson as he prepares medical students for war, happening upon a murder in the process.

Overall, the pacing of the short stories was well executed, as well as their length. Each story was not too long or too short but made for a quick and enjoyable read. Also notable is how each short story ends with a notes section explaining historical context behind significant details within the plot. For example, at the end of The Singular Case of Dr. Butler, the author includes facts about World War I warfare that are relevant to understanding short story. This is an appreciated inclusion because it can fuel readers to want to learn more about the topics discussed and about the historical period in general.

This novel is rated four out of five stars for its interesting stories, well written plot and pacing, and additional sections that add to readers’ understanding of the Sherlock canon. This was a good read and is recommended for Sherlock Holmes fans, mystery genre fans, and devout history lovers. 

Susan Knight (Sherlockian Author)

A slim but nonetheless impressive collection of new Sherlock Holmes short stories has recently come my way. Paula Hammond’s new book is entitled Eliminate the Impossible, after Holmes’s famous remark, ‘When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’
There’s a deal of improbability in these yarns, among them a case of apparently spontaneous combustion, a shooting presided over by the Angel of Mons and the apparition of Lady Hatton holding her heart in her hands in the self-same Bleeding Heart Yard where centuries before she had sold her soul to the devil. With his customary disdain for the supernatural, Holmes manages to blow away the fogs of irrationality to reveal the very physical explanations for these events.

What I particularly enjoyed, apart from the tales themselves, were the notes following each story, showing them to be grounded in historical accuracy. Real people make appearances, usually with their names changed. Thus Hiram Maxim, inventor of the Maxim machine gun, appears as Dodson Hughes; Hannah and John Courtoy, whose Egyptian style mausoleum is one of the sights of Brompton cemetery in London appear here as Hannah and John Chester (deceased).

There’s fascinating and sometimes grisly incidental detail, too, regarding the combustibility of pigs or the fact that in certain circumstances quicklime preserves bodies rather than destroys them, the deleterious effect of prolonged ultra-low frequency sounds on the human brain, causing fear, vertigo, disorientation and even heart attacks, used to sinister effect in certain regimes to this day.

The story in the collection that particularly caught my attention, since I myself am in the process of finishing a new Mrs Hudson novel set in Constantinople, is The Case of the Impossible Assassin, in which Holmes and Watson travel via the Orient Express to the then Turkish capital. It’s an intriguing tale and one which, I am relieved to say, bears no resemblance to my own story, apart from the setting.

What is a well-established fact, however, is that Sultan Abdul Hamid II was a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes. When Sir Arthur and his new wife, Jean, honeymooned in Constantinople in 1907, the Sultan conferred on him the Order of the Medjidie (second class) and on Jean The Order of the Chefakat, which (spoiler) Mrs Hudson too may hope to receive quite soon.

All in all, a thoroughly engaging collection. I shall certainly look out for more of Paula Hammond’s books.


Eliminate The Impossible is available from this site.

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