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The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle
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Feb 03, 2010

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bookshelves: 2010-bookshelf

The last Sherlock Holmes novel by Arthur Conan Doyle was published in The Strand in 1914 and in America the following year. I was surprised to find this Hard Case Crime edition as their December 2009 novel, their #63.

The wonderfully lurid new cover painting by Glen Orbik, the author listed as "A.C. Doyle, Best-Selling Author of 'The Lost World'" and "inspired by a True Story," along with acclaim for Doyle on the back cover, brought a huge smile to my face. The first part of the novel is a wonderful Sherlockian mystery, in which the great detective is at his best. A man his been killed by a shotgun blast to the head in his home, which is a large manor, surrounded by a moat. Yes, the drawbridge was up. Holmes and Watson are asked to consult and, in good time, bring forth a satisfying solution. Be sure to make note of the bloodstained windowsill, the wedding ring that wasn't missing, the strange note and tatoo and the missing stranger in town.

This leads us the the second half of the tale, the backstory, which is, indeed, inspired by the true story of the Molly Maguires, here called the Scowrers, a secret society. The 'Valley of Fear,' called Vermissa Valley, is a stand-in for the Shenandoah Valley and Pottsvillle, Penn., rich in anthracite coal, is the real town which inspired Doyle to create a hellish community of wretches. There's action, power struggles and much of it is based on the true events of the 1880s (called 1875 in the book). It's like getting two tales for the price of one.

For fans of the current movie "Sherlock Holmes" this is an easy way to have a taste of Holmes in his original form. For Sherlockian fans, it's a novel that may have escaped their reading the first time they enjoyed the Canon, as was the case with me.

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Reading Progress

February 3, 2010 – Started Reading
February 3, 2010 –
0.0% "This is Arthur Conan Doyle's last Sherlock Holmes novel." (Audio CD Edition)
February 3, 2010 – Shelved
February 3, 2010 –
page 42
February 7, 2010 – Finished Reading
February 8, 2010 – Shelved as: 2010-bookshelf

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