Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes
By Ann Margaret Lewis
Published by Gasogene Books (www.wessexpress.com)
Reviewed by Ellen Gable Hrkach
I just finished reading Ann Margaret Lewis’s book Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes. A collection of three stories, it is a delightful, enjoyable read from start to finish, beautifully written with characters who are familiar yet unique in the setting of this book. Lewis captures well the essence of the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle books. She offers a particularly unique approach to Holmes by writing a Catholic novel with the original (non-Catholic) characters. (Watson reminds Holmes that neither of them “have darkened the door of a church” in a long time; however, the author does show some spiritual growth in both Holmes and Watson.) This reads like a Victorian-era book, from the language, the meals to the whole atmosphere of the day. Even the font is old-fashioned and similar to those in 19th century novels. The attention to detail (meals are described exquisitely, a mention in passing of the bells of the Angelus tolling, Italian and Latin phrases) is extraordinary well done.
In the first story, The Death of Cardinal Tosca, Holmes and Watson, while vacationing in Rome, have been asked by Pope Leo to investigate the death of a cardinal. Pope Leo’s character is likeable, humble, down to earth, virtuous. The story then has Holmes and Watson (with some assistance from the Holy Father) attempting to solve the murder.
The Vatican Cameos is mostly written from Pope Leo’s perspective as a memoir Watson is reading. A box containing rare antique Roman cameos is sent from the Pope to Queen Victoria. When the box arrives, there are no cameos inside. I found the dialogue between Holmes and Pope Leo to be well done. A great deal of history is included and Lewis is to be commended for her meticulous research.
The Second Coptic Patriarch begins with a former foe of Holmes (Flambeau the thief) asking for Holmes’ assistance. An Egyptian clerk has been murdered and Flambeau’s friend, G.K. Chesterton’s Catholic priest Father Brown, has been accused of the murder.
The cover and interior artwork are extremely well done and add significantly to the overall quality of the book.
I can envision this remarkable book becoming an instant classic. I highly recommend this beautiful piece of literature to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, as well as to the fans of the original Sherlock Holmes books.
Copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach