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Holmes: The Darlington Substitution by Melvyn Small
Synopsis: With Watson’s literary career going from strength to strength, he secures a slot on local radio to publicise his new book. Uncertain as how to well it went, he is still a little surprised when the recording isn’t broadcast. Although disappointed, he disregards this snub to his confidence as a peculiar but unimportant bend in the path of his literary career.
Sherlock Holmes is not so dismissive. He seizes upon the event, certain that there is more to this rebuff than meets the eye. He grills Watson to the content of his interview, convinced a key fact will reveal all. There is nothing. Watson is sure off that. An investigation ensues that takes Holmes to the end of the known world, a place just near Thirsk.
The Darlington Substitution is a retrospective account, occurring during the same time as the adventures chronicled in Holmes Volume 2. It sees Holmes at the height of his wisecracking, foulmouthed, law disregarding deductive brilliance.
This novella is available in chapter segments via https://www.indipenned.com/index.php?p1=short-stories with more information at http://www.melsmall.com/fiction/darlington-substitution.
Melvyn Small is an author and the founder of Indipenned, a website that champions the work of independent literature. Thus far he has written two books, Holmes Volume 1 and the imaginatively titled follow up Holmes Volume 2 (Subsequently republished by Fahrenheit Press as the Victor Locke Chronicles).
Mel’s perhaps unique spin on Sherlock Holmes, which places the character in a different time, location and section of society, has found fans around the world and is fast becoming a cult classic. His writing style is pacey and littered with gin-dry humour. It has been described as “hilarious, clever and hugely enjoyable.” The Darlington Substitution novella is his longest story so far and perhaps his best work to date.
As a crime fan, I love a murder mystery. Although my preference is for contemporary – not a fan of anything before the 1980s (I’m a late sixties baby) – I know the Holmes and Watson stories well enough, albeit from the television more than the written word. As an editor, I’m a tough crowd but was soon won over. During Watson’s first encounter (other than with Holmes), he’s invited to download another author’s book so I knew I was in even more familiar territory.
The swearing near the start might put off the more sensitive of readers but it’s far from indicative of the story or quality of the writing. You don’t have to be a Holmes efficienado but I smiled as there were familiar names (the Twisted Lip pub to name one).