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The Shadow of the Reichenbach Falls: A Review
There have been many, many accounts of the events at Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland regarding Sherlock Holmes and Professor James Moriarty, almost as many accounts as there have been between Holmes and Jack the Ripper. John R. King's account is the only one I know of that ties both Reichenbach and Ripper together. This fast paced pastiche opens in Switzerland with the resourceful Thomas Carnacki and semi-hero of the book meeting a lovely young lady. She is on her way to a picnic for one to a spot below Reichenbach Falls. Carnacki soon endears himself to the young lady, Anna and is invited to join her on the picnic. This is the same Thomas Carnacki who later becomes known as the Ghost Hunter in William Hope Hodgson's The Idler.
As the couple approaches their spot of choice, they notice a fight between two people up on the rim of the falls. They are horrified to see one of the combatants plunge over the falls and land on the rocks closest to them. Thomas and Anna are able to reach the body and pull the man out of the abyss. He is alive but just barely. The man has a nasty wound to the side of his head and when he awakens, he cannot remember anything about himself or his foe. There is no time to dally because the thrower begins shooting at the throwee and his rescuers. Thomas is wounded and so it 'Silence', the name that is given to amnesiac.
As the story unfolds, we learn that Anna is Anna Moriarty, daughter of the Professor and eventually, on page 243, that the amnesiac is Sherlock Holmes. This is certainly not all we learn either. After a trip to Bern, we learn Moriarty has henchmen waiting at every turn and that Thomas is nearly invincible, a fate not awarded to some of the other characters. Dr. Watson makes his obligatory appearance and even teams up with Thomas at the end to bring down the bad guys. Because of some supernatural twists in the pot, an AC/DC electronic generator, a few extra murders, Watson never finds out that Holmes is still alive. We still have to read he Empty House" for that account. Voodoo, Holmes, and Carnacki also play roles in keeping Watson in the dark.
The entire middle section of the book is from Moriarty's journal and through it we learn of his wife and eventual child. We also learn of Moriarty's involvement with Jack the Ripper and how and why Moriarty became the Napoleon of Crime. The entire book is written from several points of view. We see things few Carnacki' s point of view and then the next chapter it is from Holmes'. Other times the reader is unsure who is telling the story. As far as pastiches go, this one falls into middle ground; not too bad; not too good.
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