“The Instrument of Death” is the latest Sherlock Holmes pastiche novel by David Stuart Davies which has been published by Titan Books. This time, the most renowned fictional consulting detective faces off against a killer who can hypnotize others to do his deadly bidding. I had heard of the name of Dr. Caligari before but did not know anything about him. Dr. Caligari was introduced to German moviegoers in 1920 and was apparently some mad doctor with some creative and clever methods of murder in his arsenal. “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” is thought by some to be the first significant of cinematic horror.
Davies chooses to shift between first and third person narrative throughout this novel. Dr. Watson is providing his usual observations in many chapters while the reader also gets to see Caligari’s malevolence in others.
I have lamented the habit of several pastiche authors to keep having Holmes meet other figures of historical or literary significance so habitually, but I didn’t know enough about Caligari to be distracted by yet another example of this overused practice. It’s a novel that is competently written but not much beyond that. Davies is credited with being one of the United Kingdom’s leading Holmes experts, so I would think there would be something a little more special here, however that’s not to be. I am relieved that it was nothing that provoked a lot of irritation though. It’s another Sherlock Holmes novel with a mildly interesting premise but misses the mark of being anything truly memorable.
After another visit to the always intriguing rooms of 221 B Baler Street comes to a close, I will next be accompanying the Doctor and Romana as another script Doctor Who script from the iconic Douglas Adams is adapted and presented by James Goss. “Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen” will be the next to be enjoyed before being added to my vast collection of novels of that particular series.