The Reichenbach Problem

Written by Martin Allison Booth
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle solves a mystery this time, most reluctantly while on a Swiss holiday. Leaving pregnant wife and child back in England, Dr. Conan Doyle is intent to rest and flee the fame that his most famous creation, Sherlock Holmes. But the combination of his meeting with a devotee named Holloway on the train to the most inconvenient death of a fellow British tourist near Reichenbach Falls conspire against his intentions. Peter Brown’s body has a few questionable details that lead to a séance, a withholding local priest, and an alluring devotee of spiritualism, and growing suspicion that points to the good doctor himself.

As Holloway feels it’s his duty to play Sherlock Holmes, Conan Doyle finds his own state of mind suffering from the pressure of living up to his brilliant creation and local opinion and superstitions. Finally he finds himself in hiding, on the run, and telegraphing trusted chums in code before all is revealed.

The pompous and fussy creator of Sherlock Holmes is great fun to follow in a mystery of his own. But the many possibilities explored surrounding the death of Peter Brown may make the reader as befuddled and Dr. Conan Doyle himself. Especially from an author who is also a script writer, the book may seem a bit overwritten, slowing the pace before the exciting chase-laden finale. Of course, a bonus of the story is experiencing the germ of the idea of how to write the great detective out of his own and Arthur Conan Doyle’s life. Duel to the death over a waterfall, anyone?