Slightly Supernatural Sleuthing
From looking at the cover of “A Study in Grey”, one would suspect that this is a tale about Sherlock Holmes. However, much like Holmes’ penchant for disguise, appearances can be very deceptive and as such he is but a background character in this solidly entertaining novella from John Linwood Grant.
Set during the twilight of the aforementioned detective, the story follows Captain Blake Redvers of the mysterious Section 17 of the War Department as he is tasked with protecting the realm from a potential nefarious plot to destabilise the empire. An influential and high ranking Member of Parliament has claimed he’s receiving advice from his deceased son via a series séances that he’s been attending. With storm clouds gathering on the horizon and the threat of war brewing, the government is understandably perturbed at this turn of events and seeks to find out if there are insidious forces at work behind the scenes.
I have to say that overall I rather liked the style of the novella. It’s not by any stretch of the imagination overtly supernatural or horrific in tone, at least to these eyes. Much like Sherlock’s presence, the supernatural is a subtle background element that intermittently weaves in and out of the story, adding an extra layer of mystery and ambiguity to the proceedings. Grant excels at painting a vivid picture of Edwardian life, rich in the culture and society of the age and peopled with characters familiar to readers of Arthur Conan Doyle and William Hope Hodgson. If sleuths, séances, psychics and subterfuge tickle your fancy then you could do a lot worse than lose yourself in this gripping and tense slow burn of a novella for a couple of hours. Good stuff!
The Edwardian Era has begun its rot into modernity, exchanging all the virtues of Dr. John H. Watson for the vices of Captain Redvers Blake. But a case from Watson's era resurges in the present, ensnaring a high official in what may be a ring of German spies. Not any mere ring of bombs and petrol, but a ring of spiritualism and séances.
The former case was one of Holmes' failures. Despite an illustrious employer, despite Holmes' warnings, and despite a vengeful fire, a young woman married a monster and slipped beyond the Great Detective's ken. Now, she returns to his notice, hostess to the seance ring.
As England prepares for war, Sherlock Holmes and Captain Redvers Blake must solve these two entwined cases at once.
All this, to say nothing of 427 Cheyne Walk's new residents and their role...