By Sandra de Helen
CreateSpace, 204 pages, $11.99
The Hounding is an excellent read for those who hold Sherlock Holmes near and dear to their hearts. With a taste of the old detective and plenty of references to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most beloved character, this novel is just the right mix of modern happenings and classic twists.
Dr. Mary Watson, a local Portland naturopathic doctor, becomes fast friends with a most interesting, inquisitive sleuth: Shirley Combs. As she goes on day to day trying desperately to keep hold of her more normal life, she partners with Combs in her investigative venture regarding the death of a multi-billionaire woman in deep with a plot to barrage the timbering companies of Portland. As more and more suspects are revealed, the reader is thrown in a whirlwind of a quite modern problem we currently face: saving the old growth of our natural forests without cutting jobs of hardworking men. De Helen touches briefly on current issues while bringing a classic Sherlock feel to the characters.
De Helen eloquently creates a mystery that will keep you guessing. Unlike most novels, The Hounding had few dry spots, if any. De Helen seems to have a knack for detecting when there is too little or too much in a chapter, therefore creating that perfect happy medium. You will not be left with a sense that there wasn’t enough, but you will be left with wanting more.
The relationship between Shirley and Mary is intriguing. Though it mirrors the original Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes, there are key points that make it different. In this novel, Mary is more open with her thoughts and feelings throughout the novel; even relaying how irritating it is for Shirley to assume she can come at the drop of a hat, or how invigorating it is to be thought of as Shirley’s business partner. What the reader might also find interesting is de Helen’s clever way of incorporating current issues, such as animal rights. Though it doesn’t go into detail, she briefly brings up current issues such as if it is wrong for wild animals to be raised up in captivity.
Overall, The Hounding is the perfect mystery novel to snuggle by the fire with on a stormy night. It’s an easygoing read that keeps you guessing at every turn of the page, all the while making you think and question events more closely. This novel is definitely a good one to recommend.
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