Top critical review
One person found this helpful
The Dispatch Box Running Dry?
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.