“Engel captures the spirit of Doyle’s tone in the Holmes sagas without it being a stilted or pale imitation . . . A lively, engaging page-turner.” —Curled Up With a Good Book
Howard Engel is the award-winning writer whose Benny Cooperman mysteries garner rave international reviews—fans stretch from Canada to Japan, England, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, and the United States. His latest, Mr. Doyle & Dr. Bell, is a brilliant departure from the Cooperman series. The year is 1879, and in Edinburgh, Alan Lambert has been tried, convicted, and sentenced to hang for the murder of a dazzling opera star and her lover. But Lambert’s brother believes he’s innocent and pleads with Dr. Bell, a celebrated professor of anatomy, to uncover the truth. Bell agrees and sets out to crack the case with his keen powers of deduction and the help of his student, Arthur Conan Doyle.
“Charming . . . [This book] will satisfy the craving of Sherlockians for another dose of gaslight and fog.” —The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“Provides mystery buffs with more to ponder than your average whodunit . . . More intriguing than the actual plot, though, is the combination of fact with fiction that gives readers a glimpse of the real life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle—his character, his influences, and the era in which he lived.” —Quill & Quire
Canadian Engel's serviceable venture into the Sherlock Holmes genre suffers by comparison to David Pirie's The Patient's Eyes (2002), likewise substituting a young Arthur Conan Doyle and his real-life mentor, Dr. Joseph Bell, for Watson and Holmes. When a beautiful opera singer and her lover are found brutally slain, suspicion falls on Alan Lambert, "a man of good family fallen upon evil days," whose brother asks Bell for assistance. As the doctor and his prot g race the clock to save Lambert from the gallows, Edinburgh's power elite impedes their efforts at every turn. Undeterred, the pair persists in exploring numerous avenues of inquiry that the police have ignored or discounted. While the period details ring true and Bell is a convincing master detective, with his deductions based on careful observation and encyclopedic knowledge, his personality remains far less developed than that of Pirie's hero. Similarly, Engel barely alludes to Doyle's well-documented family difficulties, which provided Pirie with ample grist for making the future creator of Sherlock Holmes sympathetic and complex. Moreover, the murderer's identity will come as less than a surprise to most readers. FYI:Arthur Ellis Award winner Engel is also the author ofThe Cooperman Variations (2002) and other titles in his Benny Cooperman series.