The Man from Hell by Barrie Roberts

Rating 8.0/10
A story worthy of the Sherlock Holmes name.

The world’s greatest detective returns in a story that forms part of a new series entitled The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

In The Man from Hell Barrie Roberts creates a perfect emulation of Conan Doyle’s works. The year is 1886 and the wealthy philanthropist Lord Backwater has been found beaten to death on the grounds of his estate. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson must unravel the mystery by pitting their wits against a ruthless new enemy, taking them across the globe in search of the killer.

As a teenager I was a voracious reader of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes adventures and quickly made my way through the entire collection. The unfortunate aspect of a detective crime novel though is that although they can be re-read and enjoyed, the mystery and tension that surrounds the first reading can never be recaptured. That was why, when I saw Robert Lee Hall's Exit Sherlock Holmes in a book store, I thought it would be good to read a Holmes’ story of which I did not already know the ending. Exit Sherlock Holmes was an excellent novel, as is The Man from Hell – they both stay true to Conan Doyle’s original works while showing that there is life in Baker Street yet.

My feelings here may not place me on the same wavelength as all Holmes fans, indeed I am sure that some deem it sacrilegious for authors to attempt to carry on Conan Doyle’s work, but I find it heartening that there are still Sherlock Holmes stories that I have not read.

It is difficult to talk about my favourite parts of The Man from Hell without giving too much away so I’ll just say that Barrie Roberts's narrative is as Watson-ian as any fan could wish for. A large portion of the book, set in a country far away from England, describes the past-life of one of the major characters and its chapters hardly contain Holmes and Watson at all. It is a great story in its own right and shows Roberts as a talented author whose skills go far beyond mere homage.

The Man from Hell makes for riveting reading, the short chapters fly by and the mystery slowly unfolds as we exciting narrative progresses. It is a story that is worthy of the Sherlock Holmes name. Read and enjoy.

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