Thursday, May 18, 2017

A MR. MAC duo from Gary Lovisi: "The Affair of Lady Westcott's Lost Ruby" & "The Case of the Unseen Assassin"

I’ve read a lot of Sherlock Holmes pastiches, and Gary Lovisi has apparently written quite a few, but these are the first I’ve met.

In the two tales in this new Stark House Black Gat book (both appearing for first time, I believe), Lovisi focuses half his energies on the Doyle character Alec MacDonald, a young Scotland Yard Inspector who earned Holmes’ regard in The Valley of Fear, and the other half on Holmes and Watson.

In “The Affair of Lady Wescott’s Lost Ruby,” MacDonald is embroiled in a mystery that grows swiftly more bizarre, until he’s compelled to request the assistance of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. We’re then treated to some nice scenes as Holmes goes undercover as a rat catcher to investigate the case—and avoid a calamity that could shake the foundations of the realm.

Does Holmes solve the mystery and save the day? Doesn’t he always? But how he does it makes for some good Sherlockian fun, with a bit of speculative history as a bonus.

The second tale, “The Case of the Unseen Assassin,” concerns the hunt for a serial killer. While Inspector Lestrade is busy bungling the first two cases, and refusing to consider they may be related, Mr. Mac (as Holmes calls him) draws the third, and enlists the help of Holmes and Watson.

This one springs indirectly from a reference in the Doyle story “The Adventure of the Golden Pince-Nez,” to Huret the Boulevard Assassin, a man executed in Paris two years before the events of the tale in this book. A killer called the Unseen Assassin is now operating in London, and the multiple murder investigations keep our heroes hopping.

These two novellas are good Sherlockian entertainment, and comfortable visits with two old friends as seen from a slightly different perspective. Mr. Mac is a nice addition to the family, and I'd be pleased to see more of him. 

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