Richard T. Ryan creates a top-notch Sherlock Holmes story in The Druid of Death. He layers the familiar characters of Holmes, Watson, Lestrade, and Mrs. Hudson against historic sites and Druidic lore. And of course, there’s a murder or three to solve!
Since Ryan has a Master’s Degree in medieval literature, it’s a natural for him to include numerous historic details. As the story opens, Holmes and Watson begin helping Scotland Yard unravel a murder at Stonehenge. The famous standing stones are just the first of several such sites in Ryan’s story. After reading Druid of Death, I also have a few new places for my travel bucket list.
Historically, druids are considered religious leaders, philosophers, and sometimes even practitioners of human sacrifice. Adding their ancient Celtic influence to a Sherlockian story is a terrific twist. Druids traffic in the ephemeral and unknowable. Sherlock Holmes is quite the opposite, since his focus is on logic and observation. The two certainly butt heads here!
Ryan creates a thoroughly enjoyable pastiche, giving readers just what you’d expect from such a mystery. The suspense is tangible, and the detection methodologies quirky. He’s right on the money with his characterizations of all the usual players, especially Holmes and Watson.
I did guess the killer part way through, but most likely after Holmes had his own suspicions. I like to think I was faster on the draw than Watson, but who knows.
I’d heartily recommend Richard Ryan’s highly readable writing style. In fact, I’m intending to track down his previous two Sherlockian adventure novels soon.
Many thanks to Richard Ryan and MX Publishing for providing me with a digital advanced readers’ copy of this book in exchange for this honest review. Also thanks to Caroline Vincent for including The Bibliophage in the book tour for this book.