aslighttrickofthemindm32098_f.jpgIt’s 1947, and an elderly Holmes is in retirement in Sussex with his bees, being looked after by his housekeeper, Mrs Munro, and her son, Roger in the absence of Mrs Hudson and Watson, who are both long dead. He is afraid that his mind is beginning to fail now that he has reached his nineties, and he cuts a very lonely figure.

Mitch Cullin’s story revolves around three things of importance to Holmes: his relationship with Roger, in whom he has encouraged an interest in bees; a recent trip to Japan to investigate the properties of a particular plant which he believes may help to prolong his faculties; and the recollection of a case from his past where he became obsessed with a young woman who had lost both of her children.

There is a tragic event in the middle of this story which, along with Holmes’ experience of Japan in the aftermath of the war through a visit to Hiroshima, makes this a sad and beautiful novel. Holmes has to face up to ageing, and the fact that other people, including Mrs Munro and his Japanese host, ask more of him than he is able to give. I found this a remarkable addition to the vast body of work about about Holmes, and would suggest it even to those who don’t follow the life of the Great Detective.

It has also led me to dig out a number of other Holmes pastiches which the Book God and I have collected over the years, so don’t be surprised to see more on this subject in future posts.