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AUSTIN MITCHELSON and NICHOLAS UTECHIN
Sherlock Holmes and the Earthquake Machine


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Ian Henry Publications, Romford, 1994
(price: 12.99; 282 pages)
(first published as The Earthquake Machine by Belmont Tower Books in 1976)


The blurb on the back:

Sherlock Holmes and his biographer, Dr John Watson, are summoned to the presence of the consulting detective's brother, Mycroft, who demands that Sherlock should appear to retire from his practice, so that he can 'go undercover' in an anarchist group in East London. To Holmes's surprise the revolutionaries are led by an old adversary and, after the nihilists are dispersed, further clues lead to yet another old enemy. The trail takes Holmes and Watson to Cornwall, where they find macabre death in a private zoo and are nearly accused of murder. The pursuit leads Holmes to the court of the Tsar of all the Russians, where a demonstration of a weapon of unbelievable power takes place. In fact the device is so earth shattering that the Tsar refuses to accept that it was possible and dismisses its inventor, who turns his threats on London. Back in Baker Street, Holmes is confronted by the potential destruction of the capital and, with the active support of the Government (whose liaison officer is the young Winston Churchill), arrange the evacuation of London, although, at the very last minute, the device is neutralised.


Nicholas Utechin is a Sherlock Holmes enthusiast of some repute: he edits Sherlock Holmes The Detective Magazine and was responsible for a fine Archive Hour on Radio 4 about Sherlockian pastiches. He should, however, have stuck to non-fiction, because unfortunately he and his co-author are terrible novelists: this is dull in the extreme.

The cause isn't helped by this edition. The sleeve notes are unbearably clumsy and it comes as no surprise when pages start falling out of the shoddy binding as soon as the book's opened.


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