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June 12, 2021

A Study in Crimson by Robert J. Harris ~ a Review

by MK French


In 1942 London, a killer known as "Crimson Jack" is copying the famous Jack The Ripper murders of 1888. Scotland Yard turns to Sherlock Holmes and his friend Watson to determine the identity of the killer before he kills again.

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A Study in Crimson
June 2021; Pegasus Crime; 978-1643137582
ebook, print (256 pages); historical mystery
A Study in Crimson
styles itself after the classic Holmes movies of the 1940s starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Imagine the classic Victorian stories transported to the '40s, you have the feel of this novel. Watson is still the one telling the story from his point of view, with accents written out and an initial mystery that Sherlock solves to "prove" once again how quickly he can solve crimes taking in the minor details that others miss as well as the acceptable social mores of the time. From the initial crime he solves, Sherlock returns to Baker Street and is drawn into the main story we're looking for.

The story progresses at a pace similar to that of Doyle's works, with some musing from Watson about his former married life, the war, how the destitute still need police protection, and that there is always a need for "more soldiers in the war against crime." Mycroft still works for the government, this time for the war effort, and shows off as much as Sherlock does in additional asides that are tangential to the main story. Transposing them all to the '40s is very well done, keeping the core of the characters the same and altering backgrounds just in the most minor of details. What seems at first to be asides that have nothing to do with the main story with Crimson Jack does ultimately give the details needed to solve the crime. Sherlock works well in this time period, using his knowledge of many subjects, proper behaviors expected of the English, and history to unravel the clues. Overall, it's a fun addition to the Holmes collective.

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Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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