The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes Mass Market Paperback – 2003
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Although Sherlock Holmes, in Arthur Conan Doyle's original tales, only occasionally traveled much beyond London, he and his faithful chronicler, Dr. John Watson, have become regular globetrotters in Larry Millett's recent Holmes pastiches. The first four of these novels found the pair hieing off to Minnesota (not coincidentally, the author's home state), while The Disappearance of Sherlock Holmes sends them to New York and Chicago in 1900, one frustrating step behind conspirators bent on framing them for kidnapping and murder.
Two years have passed since Holmes (in Doyle's "The Adventure of the Dancing Men") captured Abe Slaney, a Chicago gangster who murdered the husband of Elsie Cubitt, his childhood love. Now, Elsie has gone missing, and clues suggest that Slaney--though reportedly dead--is behind the snatch. Goaded by a bogus ransom demand and an enigmatic spiritualist, and perhaps also by the great detective's uncharacteristic affection for the Widow Cubitt, Holmes and Watson commence a lively chase that will lead them from a slain Liverpool strumpet to a foggy standoff at a Manhattan church, a death-defying train ride across Pennsylvania, and a climactic shootout at a Windy City fraternal hall. Millett's veteran readers will identify the malign genius behind this conspiracy well before the last page, and they may be disappointed with the minor role played here by Minneapolis saloonkeeper and series regular Shadwell Rafferty. Yet the author adroitly captures the spirit of the Holmes canon, while adding to it a modern urgency of plot and an infectious curiosity about the historical sites around which this tale's action occurs. If this novel doesn't surpass Millett's Sherlock Holmes and the Ice Palace Murders for eccentric intrigue, it certainly bristles with shocks and twists enough to curl Queen Victoria's hair. --J. Kingston Pierce --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In his disappointing fifth pastiche (after 2001's Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Alliance), Millett places Holmes and Watson in situations better suited to an Indiana Jones movie, with hairbreadth escapes, gun battles, chases and death traps. He removes most of the mystery by interrupting Watson's own first-person storytelling with third-person narratives that leave little doubt as to the identities and motives of the stock-villain criminals. Elsie Cubitt, from Doyle's "The Adventure of the Dancing Men," becomes a love interest for the misogynistic detective. When she disappears, the clues, including the famous dancing men code, seem to point to a spurned suitor. Soon, however, an elaborate scheme to frame Holmes for Elsie's abduction, a related murder and several other crimes propels the legendary pair to New York, dogged by press accusations and a figure masquerading as Holmes. Neither the master sleuth nor Millett's own creation, Shadwell Rafferty, who dominated the plot of Secret Alliance, does much deducing. Uncanonical attributes ascribed to Holmes only detract from the power of the original. Because the Baker Street duo are sure to emerge triumphant, there's little suspense to engage the reader. Since his excellent debut, Sherlock Holmes and the Red Demon, the author has been straining ever harder for plausible ways to send Holmes to America. It may be time for Millett to transform this fully into a Shadwell Rafferty series or to apply his talents to a new series altogether.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
All of Millett's Holmes stories have a very strong sense of place. Millett is something of an amateur historian and fills his chapters with elaborate descriptions of the streets, buildings, parks, and surroundings the characters encounter.
Footnotes appear often, usually explaining details of architecture or other historical details. For a certain sort of leisurely reader, the footnotes are fine, but for others they can become a distraction. For instance, if Holmes meets Watson at an old church in Chicago, a footnote appears that tells us the year the church was built, the kind of glass used in the windows, and the year the church was finally torn down. There's a lot of this. Halfway through the novel, I just disregarded the footnotes entirely, and from there on, I think my "read" went better.
Millett is a very good prose stylist. He crafts excellent sentences and paragraphs. His descriptions are razor sharp, and his characters come to life rather well. Of all Mr. Millett's Sherlock Holmes books, DISAPPEARANCE best brings Sherlock Holmes forward as a real, living human being. And besides Holmes, some of the other characters are also well drawn and three-dimensional.
There is plenty of action in DISAPPEARANCE, and even some tawdry sex.Read more ›
Elsie Cubitt has vanished after withdrawing 5,000 pounds from her bank and Slaney is the most likely culprit. Holmes starts his quest by visiting a spiritualist, a confidant of Elsie. However, soon after Holmes leaves, the spiritualist vanishes too. The trail turns murky when a Holmes impersonator seems to be just in front of the London duo, leaving behind fallacious clues to throw Sherlock off and crime victims wanting retribution. The dynamic duo journeys to New York City where Homes also vanishes, leaving Watson and bartender buddy Shadwell Rafferty in Chicago in search of the great sleuth and Elsie.
Though a solid homage to Doyle and Holmes, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES never quite grips the audience as one would expect with Holmes missing and apparently a prisoner of a devious enemy. Instead, the reader sees an insightful look at the late Victorian era on both sides of the Atlantic and the ho hum of another case as related by Watson. Though the candid insight by Elsie, Holmes, and others adds depth, this tribute is more for the Baker Street crowd revering along with Larry Millet one of the notables.
Author Larry Millett has done his historical research and documents it in richly strewn footnotes. His accounts of city geography, turn of the (19/20th) century urban politics, and train travel all ring true. While the historical details ring true, the adventure itself has a bit of a hollow feel. It is difficult to imagine any criminal organization going to the troubles that Holmes's enemies go here. Surely it would have been easier to kill Holmes and Cubitt, if that was the goal, and then ruin their reputation later. Instead, they spend incredible amounts of money and energy for a pointless revenge.
Fans of the Holmes oeuvre may not recognize the Sherlock presented by Millett. Instead of cerebral, this Holmes is physical and impulsive. Watson, in contrast, was presented sympathetically with, I think, a properly balanced sense of loyalty and dogged determination. Doyle's Watson was never stupid--just an everyman like all of us who could not hope to do more than bask in Holmes's brilliance. So too, Millett's Watson is a man of action and integrity with solid if unexceptional intelligence.
Most recent customer reviews
I enjoyed the earlier books in this series and this one was especially good. Same day I received it, I read far into the night and finished it the following morning. Read morePublished on July 3 2004 by Lorraine Talbot
My reaction to this book was interesting. I have a tendancy to drop a book after the first couple of chapters if I don't find myself drawn in. Read morePublished on Jan. 7 2004 by MATB
"Disappearance" is a big improvement over "Secret Alliance". Despite the title, Holmes is present for much of the book. Read morePublished on Dec 31 2003
Probably the best of Larry Millet's stories (and the others have been good!) I really loved it when Mary finally got hers! That female Moriarty really deserved what she got! Read morePublished on Dec 1 2003 by Raven