Title: Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Boer Wagon
Author: Kieran McMullen
Author’s web site: Kieran McMullen
Genre: Historical Detective
Print Length: 248 pages
Plot synopsis: At the beginning of the twentieth century, Queen Victoria was the longest reigning British monarch and the British Empire was at its height. But in southern Africa the Boers, a bunch of farmers, defied the British Empire and gave it a bloody nose in what was to become known as the Second Boer War. Lord Roberts, the British commander has managed to take Bloemfontein, but has had to hold back on advancing to Pretoria. It seems that the Boers are being fed top secret military information and have captured a king's ransom in British gold. Before he continues Roberts wants this unhelpful situation sorted out. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are sent on the mission to solve the problem. While there they meet a host of historical figures. The biggest question is who to trust in a land ravaged by war and beset with countless conflicting loyalties.
I enjoyed this book very much. Ironically I have not read any of the original Holmes stories (they are on my reading list). McMullen's style was engaging and entertaining. The character development could have been a little stronger; the person who got the most attention from this perspective was, ironically, Arthur Conan Doyle. Having said that, the dialogue helped a lot in developing the characters and was witty and well structured. The officers, unfortunately, remained rather two dimensional, but this might have been intentional. The plot was well thought out, if a little simple. The setting was well described and I could get real sense of the landscape and locations, although the feel of it being in Africa, rather than England, could have been stronger. Overall, this is a good, entertaining read.
I was intrigued by some of the dialogue, especially that which concerned the historical context of the Boer War. This is because my novel about the Boer War, The Battle of Paardeberg: Lord Roberts Gambit, reflected many of the same arguments. I also used Conan Doyle as a character in my novel. A sample chapter, describing a dinner hosted by Conan Doyle, can be found HERE.
What others thought
At the time of writing there was one 5* review on Amazon.co.uk. On Amazon.com there were two 5* reviews. On Goodreads.com there were 4 ratings, all of 4* or greater giving an average rating of 4.5*.
Other novels by the same author (Click on image to go to Amazon for more details)