The versatile and talented Cavan Scott returns to the world of Sherlock Holmes in Cry of the Innocents, a tale set in 1891, nearly thirty years earlier than his debut Holmes novel The Patchwork Devil.
Where the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories (Hound of the Baskervilles excepted) were short works, designed for a magazine audience, modern readers like chunky books mixing action, intrigue and character. Cavan is the master of all three as his story starts with the death of a catholic priest and quickly moves into more sinister territory with the supposed miracle of Edwyn Warwick, the eighteenth-century slave trader whose body is said not to have decomposed. A miracle or something else?
Although some 350 pages long, Cavan paces the book in more than fifty chapters, given each scene a focus and moving the story along well. The reader is soon gripped and fascinated by the mystery as Holmes and Watson leave London for the less-trodden streets of Bristol (where Cavan himself lives). The story mixes priests and bodies with the usual disguises and complex relationship with the local constabulary. Fans of The Patchwork Devil will recognise Inspector Tovey, now meeting Holmes and Watson for the first time, but there’s a heady mix of dinner parties, midnight visitations, family mysteries and poisonings to help keep the reader turning the pages.
The resolution is grim, tense and pure Holmes. Even knowing the characters must survive to sleuth another day, there are moments when the reader will not be so sure, and Watson in particular endures some difficult challenges, and the writing is wholly convincing when he does.
Cavan has freshened up the story by the Bristol setting, and his use of a controversial slave trader benefactor as a story element resonates with very modern concerns of those re-examining the city’s history. Fans of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson need merely rest assured that in Cavan’s hands the great detective is as compelling as ever.
SHERLOCK HOLMES CRY OF THE INNOCENTS / AUTHOR: CAVAN SCOTT / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW