FIGHT CARD – SHERLOCK HOLMES book review By Ron FortierFIGHT CARD – SHERLOCK HOLMES
A CONGRESSION OF PALLBEARERS
By Andrew Salmon
Fight Card
133 pgs

This is the final entry in the Fight Card Sherlock Holmes trilogy as written by Canadian pulpster, Andrew Salmon. No stranger to Holmes and Watson, Salmon’s stories of the Great Detective have earned him awards and well deserved recognition. Thus it was not a fluke when Fight Card publisher, Paul Bishop, first approached him a few years ago to bring the Baker Street Detective into the world of boxing.

Salmons first two books, “Work Capitol” and “Blood to the Bone,” were well received by Holmes fans around the world. So meticulous is Salmon’s research and his ability to turn a Victorian phrase, his stories flow with a perfect Arthur Conan Doyle pitch that is so familiar to readers. And now we have the third and final chapter of this stellar trilogy.

“A Congression of Pallbearers,” picks up a few years after the events in the second adventure. It begins with an assassination attempt on Holmes and then the plot meanders into a convoluted espionage affair which reintroduces the alluring character of female pugilist Eby Stokes. Upon the culmination of their first encounter in the previous book, Miss Stokes had been recruited by Holmes’ brother, Mycroft, to be an operative for Britain’s Special Branch. What with the world racing towards a new century filled with all manner of scientific marvels, the Empire’s role seems to be diminishing and she appears more vulnerable than ever.

Soon after the attempt on Holmes’ life, a female agent is brutally murdered and Holmes begins to suspect both incidents are connected. He and Watson confront Mycroft only to learn Stokes, and her partner, a male agent named Andrew Martin, have gone missing while on assignment in Berlin. Days later, Miss Stokes suddenly appears at Holmes’ door with a dangerous tale of her own. She and Martin, while in Germany, discovered that Special Branch had been infiltrated by foreign agents who were systematically obtaining sensitive British secrets and smuggling them out of the country. Not knowing who they could trust, the pair returned to England via a clandestine route and were now hiding in fear of their lives.

As is typical of all Salmon fiction, the plot bolts forth like a rocket propelling the narrative along at breakneck speed, all the way delving into the personalities of the players with a deft, often heart-warming perspective. His ability to bring Holmes and Watson to life while at the same time lavishing us with local color, history and action galore is at its zenith in this offering. In the end, he has saved the best for last, “Fight Card – Sherlock Holmes – A Congression of Pallbearers,” is an amazing work by a master storyteller. Not to be missed.

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