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3.9 out of 5 stars12
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 29 August 2013
Having exhausted the deed box, Hugh Ashton has more recently found another source, resulting so far in two more paperbacks: Notes from the Dispatch-Box of John H Watson MD and Further Notes from the Dispatch-Box of John H Watson MD. The first gives us `The Affair of the Vatican Cameos', `The Reigate Poisoning Case' (`The Reigate Poisoning Case Concluded', published separately as a Kindle, very cleverly turns the story on its head) and, unexpectedly, `The History of John Augustus Edward Clay as Told by Himself'. In the second volume are `The Abernetty Horror', `The Case of the Finsbury House', `The Curious Affair of the Archdeacon' and `An Account of the Victor Lynch Forgery' - that last told by Inspector Charles [sic] Lestrade. Mr Ashton's stories are admirably close to the real thing.
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on 16 January 2016
Notes from the Dispatch-Box of John H Watson by Hugh Ashton

“The Affair of the Vatican Cameos”

This story was mentioned in passing by Watson in HOUN.

Avery Pillstone of the British Museum comes to Baker Street. He has been employed by the Museum for thirty years; holding the position of Visiting Curator for the past five.

The Vatican Cameos, on loan to the museum, have all been replaced by forgeries. There are thirteen cameos, depicting Christ and the Twelve Apostles. The originals were there when Pillstone left for the night but were stolen and fakes left in their place the next day.

Holmes is on the scent of the missing paintings and a kidnapped artist. The case twists through some very interesting hands along the way! Five Stars.

“The Reigate Poisoning Case”

This case is mentioned in passing by Watson in HOUN as the “Mme. Montpensier murder case.” Some details, however; do not match up. The author states as much in his introduction.

Madame Louise Montpensier brings the case of her step-daughter’s murder to Sherlock Holmes. The step-daughter, Annabel, is dead and Mme. Montpensier states that she is responsible, but did not kill her.

Mme. Montpensier has married again after Annabel’s father’s death to a man named Ferdinand Colethorpe. Colethope is wicked, and Mme. Feels that he has slain Annabel for the sake of the money her father left to her.

This involves something Mme. Montpensier describes as murder, with a note found that expresses fear of murder happening. Further investigation seems to confirm Madame’s guilt—but twists are always a part of Sherlock Holmes adventures! Five stars.

“The History of John Augustus Edward Clay as Told by Himself”

John Clay is of course the villain from REDH, the man described in that adventure by Holmes as “the fourth smartest man in London, and for daring I am not sure that he has not a claim to be third.”

This is a firsthand account of many of John Clay’s criminal enterprises, in the form of a journal dictated to Watson without Holmes’ knowledge. Five stars just for the audacity of it!

Quoth the Raven…
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on 22 May 2013
Well written ghosting of Sherlock Holmes stories, as usual, derived from passing references in the original works. There are several authors doing this and it is interesting to read different developments of the same reference.
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on 1 December 2014
My husband's the Sherlock fan and he says Hugh Ashton is one of the best since Conan Doyle himself, he's read most of the work he has done and hopes he's going to do more.
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on 17 September 2013
At last someone with understanding of spelling and grammar writes about Holmes, making it much easier to read. Some good stories and fun to read about John Clay.
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on 23 February 2014
not great to be fair not bad but could have made more of the stories and set the atmosphere of Victorian London
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on 4 March 2016
A book that keeps you interested and is written in Conan Doyle's unique style.
Would definitely recommend to all aficionados of the great detective.
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on 9 June 2013
I have already read several of Hugh Ashton's 'Dispatch Box' short stories and, in the main, they've been very good. But this batch I feel are less successful and the three stars are largely for "The Reigate Poisoning" which has familiar Sherlockian elements and is a reasonable vehicle for Holmes' deductive qualities - if some are a bit of a leap at times.

I personally found the "Vatican Cameos" story very interesting to begin with but it seemed to drag on forever and the sequence where Holmes explains his capture and subsequent escape by the villains of the piece is far too long.

The introduction of an Irish/Unionist angle gave the story a contemporary feel but naming the leader Sir William was a little too obvious and dare I say it stereotypical. The theft of the cameos made sense; their replacement with political caricatures less so.

Finally, the John Clay 'autobiography' I simply found a bit dull. Its not what I pick up Sherlock Holmes stories for although the alleged links to original adventures in which Clay was never mentioned is an interesting twist. And of course Colonel Moran has to come into it all somewhere.

All in all, the least successful of Hugh Ashton's Sherlock collection that I've read to date and it will be interesting to read the Reigate follow up/conclusion to see where he feels the loose ends might be. But I have enjoyed enough of the other dispatch box stories not to be too critical. Everyone is allowed a bad day at the office.
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on 22 August 2015
Another good non Conan Doyle book.
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on 19 October 2015
More good tales from Hugh Ashton
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