Death on a Pale Horse

Written by Donald Thomas
Review by Anne Clinard Barnhill

Donald Thomas’ sixth novel about the adventures of famed detective Sherlock Holmes does not disappoint. Capturing the tone and essence of the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas pits the Holmes genius against master-criminal Colonel Hunter Moran’s penchant for evil. Assisted by his faithful companion and biographer, Dr. Watson, Holmes begins to piece together seemingly random assaults against Britain’s foreign holdings. Holmes’ brother, Mycroft, placed deep into the British spy network, helps him figure out there is, indeed, an international conspiracy to bring about war in Europe. This conspiracy includes Holmes’ nemesis, Professor Moriarty, who has joined forces with Col. Moran.

To ensure everyone knows Moran is an evil man, he has the “Mark of the Beast” burned into his skin by one of his wronged victims. He is, indeed, satanic. He watches coldly from his pale horse as a British armored column is annihilated by Zulu tribesmen carrying only spears and shields. He observes as the heir to the French throne is left dead in the dust. Like the director on opening night, Moran sets the play into motion and then enjoys the show.

Though Moran seems to have thought of everything, Holmes is like a dog on the hunt. He will not give up. With each escalating event, Holmes becomes more and more determined to bring this hideous man to justice.

A rollicking good story, well executed.