Sherlock holmes reviews.., p.1
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       Sherlock Holmes Reviews The Case of the Ghostly Accident, p.1
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           W H Oxley
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Sherlock Holmes  Reviews The Case of the Ghostly Accident

  Published by Smudgeworks

  Sherlock Holmes Reviews

  The Case of the Ghostly Accident

  W H Oxley

  Copyright 2013 W H Oxley

  By the same author

  The Missing Gun: Hawker of the Yard

  An Accidental Millionaire

  Steam: rocking’n’rolling

  A Hanging Job

  Hitler’s Banner


  The review


  Other books by the author

  The Review

  I can recall many strange and exiting adventures with my friend Sherlock Holmes, but only one occasion on which he was called upon to review a book. It was in the year that he recovered the crown jewels belonging to the King of Moldavia, and a short time after Albert Sparrow the notorious cat burglar was finally apprehended, though not, alas, before he had stolen at least five hundred cats.

  My wife being away for a few days visiting an aunt in Lyme Regis, I had decided to drop in on my old friend. It was a pleasant autumn day, and the light breeze barely ruffled the golden leaves of the plane trees that shone brightly in the sunlight as I strolled the short distance from Paddington to Baker Street, crossing the Edgware Road within the sight of the spot where the notorious Tyburn Tree once stood. As I approached my former lodgings, a brougham that had been parked outside rattled away in the direction of Oxford Street.

  Nothing had changed. The room was as untidy as ever, the coal scuttle containing the pipes and tobacco stood upon the hearth, the scientific charts hung on the wall next to the violin and Holmes was lounging in his usual chair by the fire.

  ‘Ah, Watson,’ he murmured, as Billy the page showed me in, ‘it is indeed providential that your wife is visiting Lyme Regis, for I am in need of your opinion about these.’ He held up a sheaf of papers.

  ‘But how did you know–’ I ejaculated.

  ‘Elementary! Your wife would never allow you to leave the house with a coffee stain on your cravat, and so it is obvious that she was not at breakfast this morning, meaning that her visit entails an overnight stay, and I seem to recall you mentioning an aunt in Lyme Regis who was unwell…’

  ‘But what if my wife was in hospital? That would mean–’

  ‘My dear Watson, you would not be looking so cheerful if that were the case.’

  ‘Your powers of deduction never cease to amaze me, Holmes, but who was the client that has just departed?’

  ‘You did not recognise him?’

  ‘I caught but a fleeting glimpse of a top hat.’

  ‘It was the prime minister.’

  ‘Why, is the country in peril?’

  ‘Not any longer. He merely came to thank me for solving his little problem.’

  ‘I’m surprised he did not offer you a knighthood.’

  ‘He did. Naturally, I refused it... But let us get down to more important matters. What do you make of these?’

  He tossed the papers over to me, and watched with some amusement as I read through them.

  ‘Good grief!’ I ejaculated. ‘This is a forgery!’

  ‘Not a forgery, Watson, a pastiche.’

  ‘But the bounder claims that this rubbish was written by me!’

  ‘Calm yourself, my dear fellow. He makes no such claim. His name, Ted Stetson, is clearly written upon it as the author. And it would be unfair to call his work rubbish as, notwithstanding a few minor flaws, it has been well written. Here, try one of these excellent cigars while I throw another log on the fire, and then let us sit down together and analyse this very worthy effort by an American gentleman.’

  ‘How do you know the author is an American? Is it because he has a goat leading a patient across the road, is that the sort of thing they do over there?’

  ‘It is not a goat, Watson. I would deduce that the word he was searching for was nurse.’

  ‘Then why did he not say so?’

  ‘He probably thought nanny sounded more British, not realising that only the very wealthiest families in the land employ a nanny to look after their children and, as you correctly pointed out, the only type of nanny normally to be found in the Camden Town area of London would be a goat.’

  ‘The working classes sometimes refer to grandmothers as nannies, perhaps it was the grandmother.’

  He waved his cigar dismissively. ‘The woman was pregnant: the child had not yet been born.’

  ‘But it still does not prove that the writer is American.’

  ‘You will observe that he mistakenly refers to The Times as the London Times.’

  ‘I grant you that the writer is a foreigner, but why American?’

  ‘May I draw your attention to the fact that in the writer’s version of events, we drive to Dr Sinclair’s office as opposed to his practice, and that when we arrive there we are shown into, not his surgery or consulting room but his private office – and by a nurse/receptionist no less? You, my dear Watson, have a modestly successful practice in one of the better parts of this great city of five million souls, but would you ever consider employing the services of a nurse/receptionist.’

  ‘Good lord no! One of the servants will show the patients into my surgery.’

  ‘Precisely! Doctor’s office, nurse/receptionist: pretty conclusive evidence, Watson, would you not agree?’

  ‘It would appear so. Is there anything else?’

  ‘Just a few trifles…’ Holmes sat back and puffed away at his cigar, sending clouds of smoke drifting up to the nicotine stained ceiling as his deep intelligent eyes took on a dreamy look. ‘Funny money,’ he said at last.

  ‘I take it that you are referring to the pound notes?’

  ‘Exactly! Well spotted, Watson. We’ll make a detective of you yet. The smallest note issued by the Bank of England is five pounds; one pound is a gold sovereign. Though I cannot imagine the circumstances in which anyone would tip a cab driver two of them, enough for one hundred and twenty pints of beer, when a half crown would be more than adequate. Also, there is one other detail that suggests the writer comes from a classless society such as America.’

  ‘Which is?’

  ‘Surely, Watson, you would never dream of addressing anyone who was not a gentleman or a patient as mister, yet here you are to be found doing just that to a London cab driver, and would you ever address another gentleman, let alone a friend such as Dr Sinclair, as “my good man”?’

  ‘Certainly not!!!’

  ‘Americans have no idea how our class system functions, or the rules of etiquette that govern it. Furthermore, whilst Lestrade has been known on rare occasions to address me as Holmes instead of Mr Holmes he would never be so discourteous as to refer to you and I as “you two” – that is the language of the Bronx. And there, my dear Watson, I rest my case…’

  Having by now become well acquainted with my friend’s fondness for keeping something up his sleeve in order to produce it later like a conjurer, I asked, ‘Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?’

  ‘Only to the curious detail of the missing guys…’

  ‘Guys? Do you mean that the events took place on Bonfire Night?’

  ‘Not on Guy Fawkes Night itself, Watson, but a few days earlier, the thirty-first of October to be precise.’

  ‘How do you deduce that?’


  ‘I beg your pardon?’

  ‘Snap Apple Night.’

  ‘What on Earth is that?’

  ‘An American name for Halloween, though I do believe that the term is also used in some parts of
the Celtic fringe of this great realm of ours – perhaps the gentleman confused London with Londonderry.’

  ‘So that’s why those young hooligans were not asking for a penny for the guy!’

  ‘Precisely! They were Trick or Treating, an American tradition, and the final proof that this manuscript was written in the USA. Perhaps one day that little ritual will cross the Atlantic and catch on over here, but I think you will agree with me that in our present day and age no native born Londoner has ever heard of it.’

  ‘So, what are we to do?’

  ‘Hmm…’ My friend placed his finger tips together and pursed his lips. I knew better to than to interrupt him when he was deep in thought. When at last he spoke, there was a twinkle in his eye. ‘Well, Watson, I think you will agree with me that with so many little errors we could hardly award it four stars, but on the other hand the story is a good one, he correctly refers to a solicitor as opposed to an attorney and the dialogue is better than one would normally expect from one of our American cousins… You frown, Watson, but surely in all fairness you must admit that it is no worse than your attempts at reproducing American dialogue in say The Dancing Men or The Three Garridebs?’


  ‘In that case, I take it you will have no objection to me awarding Mr Ted Stetson three stars?’

  ‘Yes, but what are you going to do about the crime that has been committed here?’

  ‘I would hardly call it a crime – a misdemeanour perhaps…’

  ‘Shouldn’t we report it to the official police?’

  ‘I don’t quite follow you?’

  Without another word he leant forward and pressed the bell. The pageboy was in the room in less than a minute.

  ‘You rang, Mr Holmes?’


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