A revised and expanded version Aug 2, 2012
This book is an anthology that consists of a short novel, a novella, nine short stories/fragments and a poem, all related, more or less, to Lyme Regis. This is the second edition and it contains additional material to the first edition as well as a number of editing changes.
The main story violates Holmes? dictum, that ?no ghosts need apply.? If that is overlooked, what is left is a lively and engaging tale about a picturesque village and time. The Watson telling the tale is one of the most engaging I have met. He has the loyalty, the manners and the honesty all Sherlockians have come to revere along with a knowing twinkle in his eye. Holmes is Holmes, a bit older than we are accustomed to, but with the keen eye and lack of pretense, inhibition or tact we all associate with him. The other characterizations in the story are well-done, producing sharp images and clear impressions.
The basic premise of the tale has a supernatural element that is alien to the Canon, with no scientific justification. It requires a ?willing suspension of disbelief? and it strained my reserves of such disbelief. However, if we can gloss over and forget Doyle?s descent into Spiritualism, we can surely forgive The Master a reaction to events that reach beyond the science of his time and place. It is evident that Holmes reacts reasonably and effectively to the circumstances he faces. The question is whether those circumstances could ever occur. ?Further deponent sayeth not.?
The novella, ?The Trumper Affair,? is engaging and well-written. Holmes solves a minor mystery and Watson?s love of Cricket is fully indulged. A number of ?turn of the Century? Cricket personalities are featured and the Twentieth Century British Empire is introduced.
The new collection of short pieces is expanded and ?punched up? a bit, but it remains incomplete and fragmentary. The items included are all emotional and interesting, but most are only glimpses of Holmes and Watson or of their lasting impressions. Time wanders in and out of the narratives and impressions are more important than details.
The results of reading this book are a desire to visit Lyme Regis and a hope to see more of this comforting Watson, who is just what one always felt Watson should be.
Re-reviewed by: Philip K. Jones, August, 2012.