on 12 August 2009
A year or two after Sherlock Holmes's retirement to Sussex, the recently widowed Dr Watson, himself at a low ebb, finds the detective a victim of melancholic ennui. An unexpected encounter with an old friend provides Watson with the perfect excuse to get both of them away from an English winter to the tropical paradise of Singapore, for the friend in question is Arshak Sarkies, one of the four Armenian brothers who established a chain of luxury hotels in south-east Asia. Their destination is the most famous of them all -- possibly the most famous hotel in the world -- but what Dr Watson intends as a rest cure quickly becomes a real criminal investigation. They are greeted by Arshak's brother Tigran, manager of the Raffles Hotel, with the news that a visiting English lady has been murdered. Of course, this, rather than relaxation in the sun, is what Holmes needs. Mr Hall is a good writer and an artful storyteller; moreover he knows his subject -- or rather, subjects. His depiction of Singapore in Edwardian days is both enticing and convincing, and of course he is renowned as a Holmesian scholar. "Sherlock Holmes at the Raffles Hotel" is a grand read.
Roger Johnson, Editor of "The Sherlock Holmes Journal"
A pleasant, lightweight, easy to read and slim novel which perhaps owes more to Agatha Christie than it does to the Great Detective.
Sherlock Holmes is dragged out of retirement by Watson to deal with a small problem at the Raffles hotel in Singapore. When he arrives he find himself dealing with a murder based around the ex-pat community in Singapore all of whom are more likely to be characters in an Hercule Poirot story, not a Sherlock Holmes book.
I can't say I didn't enjoy this novel - it is an affable situation crime, competently written. However, where I take issue is that Sherlock Holmes was much too reasonable and pleasant. The real character is a dark individual with a hard edge; here we have a character that comes across as a favourite uncle. That doesn't make a bad character, but it's not Sherlock Holmes. There are some noticeable 'wrongs,' with this Sherlock as well. Sherlock Holmes does not debate with others and guess, or deal in 'possibilities.' He is a positive character of total self belief and arrogance.
The actual story is average. It bimbles on offending no-one and challenging nothing. A Sunday afternoon feel you might say.
My summation is that this is a reasonable way to while away an hour or two on a train but it does not capture the essence nor the brilliance of Sherlock Holmes. In a small way it demonstrates the genius of Mr. Doyle who gave such depth to a fictional character without alienating all but the most literary.