The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls

The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls by John R. King. Has the death of a fictional character been written about more often than Sherlock Holmes’ fall from the Reichenbach Falls? The latest version of the battle finds a young Thomas Carnacki enjoying a picnic with the beautiful Anna Schmidt under the falls when they are called upon to rescue an amnesiac Holmes after his confrontation with Professor James Moriarty. The adventure continues from the riverside to a hospital in Bern and on to the Louvre in Paris. In the beginning, the trio faces new perils on almost every page; so many that the story almost dissolves into a parody of Holmes’ tales instead of a tribute to Conan Doyle’s works. King uses both Carnacki and Holmes as narrators which can be a bit confusing at times and the entire middle of the book is devoted to a recounting of Moriarty’s life story told from the professor’s perspective. It chronicles the joy and tragedy of his marriage, his pursuit of Jack the Ripper and his rise as a master criminal chased by the dogged Holmes. Readers, such as myself, who are unfamiliar with Carnacki’s future notoriety, will be confused by the introduction of supernatural elements in the final third of the book, especially given both Holmes’ and Moriarty’s reliance on mathematics, logic, and deduction. These elements are reminiscent of the excellent 1998 Denzel Washinton film, Fallen, and certainly add an unexpected twist that our heroes must overcome.

This title was one of the recommendations from Clues Unlimited this summer and, despite its flaws, is certainly a fresh and entertaining version of the well-chronicled “death match at the Falls.”


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