Deep Waters and High Drama At Lyme Regis And Beyond
Sherlock Holmes And The Lyme Regis Trials is the last time we see Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson visit Lyme Regis to embark on yet another adventure. It was with a heavy heart that I took it upon myself to read this over the Christmas holidays but I am glad I did. As someone who lives by the sea, the tale of submarines, espionage and all things nautical appealed to me immensely. I was also thrilled to see a name in the story which is of personal interest to me as I am a relation! So it made reading this final instalment of the Lyme Regis Trilogy all the more pleasurable.
In Sherlock Holmes And The Lyme Regis Trials, Sherlock Holmes is called upon by his brother Mycroft to go down to Lyme Regis to act on his behalf to ensure that the trials of a new submarine goes smoothly and to watch for any spies or acts of espionage that may prevent this from happening. Holmes is accompanied by Dr Watson who travels down to Lyme Regis with his wife. Those familiar with David Ruffle’s earlier works will delight in seeing favourite characters such as Nathaniel and Elizabeth take a prominent role in this new adventure. As the story progresses the subterfuge increases and separate strands of investigations are launched when threats are made on both the lives of Sherlock Holmes and a young Police constable who is stationed in Lyme Regis. There is also an apparent haunting that takes place when sightings of a female ghost occur during a performance of a one woman show takes place over a few nights in Lyme Regis. As Sherlock Holmes once famously remarked in The Speckled Band, “These are very deep waters…” and it certainly could not get deeper in mystery and intrigue than as what takes place in Lyme Regis!
On reading the story I was impressed at how the reader is drawn in as if to make you feel you were actually in Lyme Regis. This is cleverly done with the use of newspaper reports with tales of a runaway horse, boating lakes, landslips caused by local flooding and so on. And as the story progresses, the reports also serves as updates to the activities of the Navy and Admiralty officials. Another amusing anecdote is the introduction of Angel, a puppy that Nathaniel and Elizabeth acquire much to the chagrin of Dr Watson! But I can’t see Watson holding a grudge for long as his heart is a kind one and I suspect he will have made a fuss of the puppy but chosen not to mention this to his loyal readers! The hauntings that take place are effective and I can’t help but think that in the description of the ghost that there is a nod to The Woman In Black, which is a chilling story and whose ghost I certainly would not want to meet on a dark bleak winter’s night. As to the outcome of Holmes’s investigations we learn that instead of a foreign spy, Holmes’s discovers that the threat to the Lyme Regis Trials lies much closer to home and there is a surprising finale to the story in regards to this.
But just as you think Sherlock Holmes and The Lyme Regis Trials is ended there is another surprise with the inclusion of a bonus story called The Grosvenor Square Furniture Van. David Ruffle has a love of all things ghostly and supernatural as those familiar with his stories will testify and this story will appeal to anyone wanting a good haunting tale over Christmas! Dr Watson’s faithful writing bureau has to be replaced due to wear and tear and Sherlock Holmes has an opportunity to surprise Watson with a replacement bureau when he investigates unusual goings on with a removal van, for which even he cannot offer an earthly explanation. Dr Watson is at first surprised and pleased with the unexpected gift but then this soon turns to surprise, concern and ultimately danger for Watson as he finds his new desk to be disconcerting and then starts to act out of character and dangerously so, even threatening his long-time friend and colleague. It is up to Sherlock Holmes to rescue Watson from the malevolent force that threatens to consume Dr Watson. As great a threat that Holmes faced with Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls. I enjoyed this story which includes a cameo appearance from Mrs Hudson, who must be the most patient landlady in all of London. What made this story so good was the ghostly feel to the story and one can feel the hairs on the back of the neck rise. I suspect even Edgar Allan Poe would have felt the chills down his spine on reading this story too! It is a story that will now be remembered every time I see both Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson appear on television or indeed Sydney Paget drawings in which Dr Watson’s writing desk is shown.
I shall miss reading of the adventures and mysteries that both Holmes and Watson encounter in Lyme Regis. It has been a joy to read them. The Lyme Regis Trilogy has its spot on my bookshelf and justly deserves the praise it has received. Lyme Regis also now has a special place amongst the many stories written of Sherlock Holmes. It would not surprise me if it were mentioned in another Sherlock Holmes story. However I hope that it will not be the last of the Sherlock Holmes stories we are gifted with from David Ruffle. I hope there will be tales to come! Until then the Game will always remain afoot.