The Revenant of Thraxton Hall
The first in a series dubbed “The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,” The Revenant of Thraxton Hall features not just one but two famous authors as its detectives: Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde. What a pair they make! It’s 1894 and Conan Doyle is facing the wrath of the public: he has just killed off Sherlock Holmes in The Final Problem. Hated by once-adoring fans and burdened by his wife’s tuberculosis, he finds distraction in a beautiful young psychic, Hope Thraxton, who summons him to solve a murder – her own. Conan Doyle and his friend Oscar Wilde travel to remotest Scotland to gloomy Thraxton Hall, the site of the Society for Psychical Research. A motley crew of psychical researchers awaits them, along with a classic locked door mystery, and perhaps worst of all, Conan Doyle finds himself haunted by his own creation, Sherlock Holmes.
In addition to the locked door mystery, there’s the Ten Little Indians effect; Wilde would like to leave but finds himself trapped at Thraxton Hall by the weather, along with the rest of the guests. Still, there are some elements of surprise, including a reveal at the end that I never saw coming. This may not be the book to console lovers of the BBC Sherlock series. Conan Doyle doesn’t seem much like his creation. His friendship with Wilde makes him more likeable, but his behavior is more emotional than logical, and his lusting after Miss Thraxton is hard to take as his wife wastes away. Wilde, however, is a delight, very much bigger than life but wholly recognizable. I’d read another book where he takes the lead.