In June of 2014, the character of Sherlock Holmes and the world-building that surrounds him was decreed by court order to be in the public domain. This freed up writers such as Richard T. Ryan to expand upon the existing canon with new stories featuring these iconic characters. Readers – and in particular, die-hard Sherlockians – have various reactions to these types of pastiches, everything from utter outrage to helpless resignation to piqued interest. The fact is, that like with all manner of writing, some are better than others – and Richard T. Ryan does more than a satisfactory job.
Working under the literary conceit that the author – Richard T. Ryan – came into possession of Dr. John Watson’s lockbox at an estate auction only to discover that it contained some unpublished tales of the duo’s exploits, The Druid of Death is the third of those “lost” stories to see the light of day. The reason each adventure was kept from the public’s eye varies and part of the enjoyment of reading these new additions is watching how those justifications develop.
The case at the center of The Druid of Death is one that plays out over a longer period of time than one might expect. When the first body is discovered on the grounds of Stonehenge, Holmes immediately fears that other murders will follow. And like clockwork, each equinox date is tarnished by the discovery of another body at various ancient ruins across the United Kingdom. The skin on each body is marred with some symbols that Holmes is able to connect with Druidic customs.
As one would expect from a Sherlock Holmes story, the great detective’s intellect, keen eye for observation, and logical deductions all play a factor in the satisfying conclusion of this mystery. Watson and Inspector Lestrade also perfectly echo the personality traits that are embedded in reader’s literary minds from the established canon. The historical elements within The Druid of Death have authenticity and readers are certain to learn a few things along the way. Particularly, those with a keen interest in all things Celtic will find much to satiate that hunger throughout the pages of The Druid of Death.
By keeping The Druid of Death on the shorter end of the novel spectrum, Richard T. Ryan echoes the existing canon while also providing enough of a story to give readers time to sink into his words. Those looking for new adventures featuring these legendary characters are sure to be entertained.
This review is based on the Audiobook version of the manuscript purchased via Audible.