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Having lived in Japan since 1988, Hugh Ashton was surprised recently to receive an e-mail message from an old college friend working in a London bank informing him that a metal deed box which had lain undisturbed in the banks vaults for nearly 100 years was due to be thrown out, since the bank was moving to new premises. Given his knowledge of Hugh's interest in Sherlock Holmes, the friend felt that the deed box, marked clearly on the outside with the name of Dr John Watson, Holmes's friend and biographer, could prove of interest. After various legal battles, Hugh obtained ownership of the box, which was shipped to his home in Kamakura, a little south of Tokyo. On opening the box, Hugh discovered a collection of tales describing the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson which had never previously been published. Three of them are given here, and more are expected as he continues to decipher Dr Watson's almost illegible writing.
on March 05, 2013 :
After reading “Tales from the Deed Box”, I felt I wanted to read more… yes, I’m a Sherlock Holmes addict… so I started reading “Secrets” expecting another good book, and there I got a surprise, because I think that in this second book Hugh Ashton exceeded his “master” Conan Doyle.
Not only the book has all the good qualities I found in the previous one, but it goes deeper into the psychology of the characters and has darker shades here and there in the plot that make it a more captivating reading.
When reading the original stories by Conan Doyle, at times I used to find myself, if not exactly bored, at least not extremely interested in some stories which involved simple thefts, with no murders or deeper intrigues in them. Reading the first two stories in this collection was a very pleasant surprise, because both “The Conk-Singleton Forgery Case” and “The Enfield Rope” fall in that category, but the plot and the characters were handled so well that I practically devoured both of them. The third story “The Strange Case of James Phillimore”, is much darker and in a way it reminded me of “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”, by Edgar Allan Poe, most of all in the initial description, the tension it creates, the horror of the bloodshed.
All this, coupled with the usual, impeccable writing style and a faithful rendition of London’s atmosphere and society of the times, makes “Secrets from the Deed Box” a book not to be missed by any Sherlock Holmes buff.
(reviewed 8 months after purchase)