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Review: The Baker Street Phantom, Fabrice Bourland

It’s 1932 in London and as a string of brutal murders begin to take place around town, two young detectives set up their own agency in Bloomsbury.  Business is quiet for Singleton and Trelawney until Lady Arthur Conan Doyle – the famous author’s widow – calls on them about a ghost.  Singleton’s father is a famed investigator of spirits, so even though he doesn’t want to take on the case, he’s almost forced to.  But what does a ghost haunting 221 Baker Street have to do with the murders taking place across London?

This was an intriguing book and so much more than I originally took it for.  I admit to starting out dubious, as the book opens with a seance and a declaration that everything was published as it was found – I thought it was going to be a hokey mystery about ghosts.  Instead, it turned into an intriguing literary mystery with an interesting protagonist and curious philosophy, which apparently is completely accurate to the time.  I really enjoyed this book and I can’t say that about too many mysteries.

Undoubtedly my favorite part of the book was its literary bent.  At first, I had no idea how things were connected, but the story came together extremely well.  First of all, there’s a ghost haunting 221 Baker Street, which of course did not exist when Conan Doyle was writing, so all of the characters are perplexed about the existence of the ghost.  It turns out to be a likeness of Sherlock Holmes, but the famed detective was obviously fictional, so how is he a ghost?  And what does he have to do with all the murders?  It’s obvious there’s something going on, and I just had to keep reading because I was very intrigued.

I also really enjoyed learning a little bit about the effort that people made in the 30’s to learn about ghosts.  Bourland doesn’t spare the details and I learned all about ectoplasm and the strange photography techniques people used to create it; in fact, it startled me to learn that some photographs described were actually real and are in archives ready for anyone to look at.  It definitely made me wonder how they were created originally.  The author cites a few books published by the men working on these ideas and I must say I’m curious to read them, no matter how much I disagree with the conclusions made.

If you enjoy mysteries and literature, which I know many of you do, The Baker Street Phantom is an excellent little read.  It kept my attention throughout and didn’t frustrate me once; instead I marveled at the author’s cleverness and look forward to reading more in this series as soon as they’re published in English.

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free from a publicist for review.

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