Narrator: Dennis Kleinman
Series: James Lovegrove's Sherlock Holmes #4
Published by Blackstone Publishing on April 6, 2021
Source: Audible Plus
Length: 8 hrs 45 mins
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It is 1890, and in the days before Christmas Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson are visited at Baker Street by a new client. Eve Allerthorpe - eldest daughter of a grand but somewhat eccentric Yorkshire-based dynasty - is greatly distressed, as she believes she is being haunted by a demonic Christmas spirit.
Her late mother told her terrifying tales of the sinister Black Thurrick, and Eve is sure that she has seen the creature from her bedroom window. What is more, she has begun to receive mysterious parcels of birch twigs, the Black Thurrick's calling card...
Eve stands to inherit a fortune if she is sound in mind, but it seems that something - or someone - is threatening her sanity. Holmes and Watson travel to the Allerthorpe family seat at Fellscar Keep to investigate, but soon discover that there is more to the case than at first appeared. There is another spirit haunting the family, and when a member of the household is found dead, the companions realise that no one is beyond suspicion.
I’ve enjoyed a lot of “new” Holmes stories, and I don’t need Holmes to necessarily be Doyle’s Holmes, but Lovegrove’s does come pretty doggone close. Eve Allerthorpe, daughter of a wealthy Yorkshire family, enlists the help of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson because she believes her family home is being haunted by the Black Thurrick, a kind of anti-Father Christmas. She has found bundles of birch twigs at the castle and seen the Black Thurrick walking across the frozen lake at night. Also, one of the wings of the castle is supposedly haunted. Holmes, of course, is skeptical, but he does suspect that something criminal is afoot. And his suspicion is justified when, soon after he and Watson arrive at Felscar Keep, a member of staff is found dead, pushed from an upper window.
The setting is perfect, a secluded Gothic castle surrounded by frozen water and a snowy forest, a place where you could believe in ghosts and demons. The family is appropriately dysfunctional and, aside from Eve, unlikely to help Holmes and Watson with their investigation.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story. The mystery is clever and feels reminiscent of one of the classics. I also liked the ending. It was Christmassy in a style befitting Holmes.