Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Murder She Wrote: The Murder of Sherlock Holmes, by James Anderson

Murder She Wrote:
The Murder of Sherlock Holmes
By James Anderson
1985

If you hang around this site at all you might know that James Anderson is one of the authors I go out of my way to praise. That's the late James Anderson, by the way, who wrote a bunch of mystery fiction but most notably a trilogy of country house mysteries that were published between 1975 and 2003. Read my reviews of these books and an overview I wrote about the trilogy, here.

What I didn't realize until recently is that among the other books Anderson wrote were three novelizations of episodes of the Murder She Wrote series. They are The Murder of Sherlock Holmes, Hooray for Homicide, and Lovers and Other Killers and were apparently issued in a convenient omnibus edition for anyone who absolutely has to have them all.

Just for the fun of it, I decided to try out the first one - The Murder of Sherlock Holmes, which is based on the two-part series opener that was in turn based on a story by series creators Richard Levinson, William Link, and Peter S. Fischer. I've watched a few episodes of Murder She Wrote but not this one, although after reading the book I'll probably seek it out just for curiosity's sake.

Given the constraints inherent in writing a novelization I had no illusions that much of Anderson's style was going to shine through here and for the most part it didn't. Although it seemed that perhaps a few flashes of his dry wit managed to reveal themselves. As for the mystery, it's not a bad one, given that it first saw the light of day as an extended TV episode.

The gist of the thing is that aspiring mystery novelist Jessica Fletcher hits it big with her first book as the story opens and is whisked off (reluctantly) to New York City for a whirlwind publicity tour. At a costume party hosted by her publisher someone in the guise of Sherlock Holmes gets bumped off. Fletcher soon finds that she has a stake in determining who did the killing and works along with local law enforcement - who are actually pretty amicable about this - to crack the case.

I don't know that I'd go quite so far as to recommend this one and I probably won't read the other two by Anderson but there are certainly worse ways to pass the time.

3 comments:

  1. The episode this novel seems based on was fine. Not the most challenging mystery in the world -- indeed, you wouldn't exaggerate much by calling it gut-wrenchingly obvious -- but fun enough.

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  2. I used to have a copy of this one but so far it's the only book by Anderson that I've read - I'll see about changing that - consider me inspired! Thanks Bill.

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  3. I guess I don't need to say that I highly recommend those country house books, but I'll say it anyway.

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