Book Review: A Body At The Ball

The Spider’s Web is the latest Sherlock Holmes novel from Philip Purser-Hallard and published by Titan Books. The story is set in London 1897 where Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson are at the conclusion of a murder investigation. They are immediately involved in a subsequent case when a corpse is discovered at a society ball. Holmes starts to interview the Moncrieff family and other guests to determine the identity of the dead man. It does not take long for Holmes to find the thread that leads to long buried family secrets and a rather complicated blackmail scheme.

So I have long lamented this tendency for these Sherlock Holmes pastiche writers to continuously have Holmes face an investigation into the supernatural or to have him encounter historical or other literary figures from the Victorian era. I thought Purser-Hallard had avoided the temptation to do either and then I read the Author’s Note at the end. Apparently, all the major supporting characters in this novel were actually taken from the works of Oscar Wilde. I have never read Oscar Wilde so I did not recognize any of the names.

Also, I had some trouble staying interested in the story anyway, which does not bode well for any interest I may have to try out Oscar Wilde stories. Purser-Hallard just didn’t grab my interest immediately with this one. Actually, my interest waned considerably as I trudged onward. He isn’t a bad writer, but this ended up not being one of the better Holmes novels I have read. Also, I was exasperated that the backdrop was the setting provided by another author.

Anyway, the 2021 literary indulgence continues as I learn what Fredrik Backman makes of Anxious People.

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