Comments on Alistair Duncan’s review of my book

Having read Alistair Duncan’s review of The Outstanding Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes. I think that perhaps he is being a little harsh in some of his criticisms. In The Carstairs Legacy Andrew Newton wasn’t referred to as Lord Carstairs. He was asked, in jocular fashion, whether he should be referred to as Lord Carstairs? I intended that to be a question posed in jest.
He seems to also imply that the story was somehow a rip-off of The Musgrave Ritual. In fact the themes are similar because Conan Doyle’s story was the inspiration for my story. After all is imitation not the sincerest form of flattery?

He criticised the Alicia story as being dull and lacking characterisation. I find it difficult to understand how such a good, scientifically accurate, ultra-short story could be considered dull?
I wrote the story in the format of an original Holmes report to the Admiralty, which I considered to be a really novel (if not unique) approach in Holmesian literature. And since it is a report, how could it contain any character interaction?

Duncan notes that in one story Watson refers to Holmes as Sherlock ‘out of character dialogue’. Since he is narrating the story, and there were two characters called Holmes in the room at that time, I had Watson endeavouring not to confuse his readers!

In the Chamber of Sorrow Mystery, Duncan decries the idea of a ghost. Like him, I too do not believe in ghosts, but as someone once said ‘you can’t let the facts spoil a good story!’  Very many people do believe in ghosts and that particular story, perhaps more than any other in the collection, has elicited a great deal of positive feedback! After all we are talking here about fictional characters in fictional situations, the operative word being fictional!

I appreciate the positive comments Duncan made about other stories and aspects in my book, even though some of these seemed to be couched a little grudgingly. For example his appreciation of my artwork was ‘damned with faint praise’ as not being similar enough to Sidney Paget’s artwork. Art, like writing, is a very personal thing. I prefer my writing and my illustrating to be my own, in my own style. They pay homage to Arthur Conan Doyle and Sidney Paget, but I wouldn’t want to try to slavishly copy those two giants!
I don’t think Duncan exaggerates in the slightest when he describes himself, on his blog, as being a pedant!

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