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by Stephen Kendrick
Berkley, September 2003
258 pages
ISBN: 0425191672

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

It's 1902 and the stakes are high when representatives of eight of the world's great religions meet at St. Thomas's Anglican Church in London to discuss the possibility of a Parliament of World Religions. But the good will which normally surrounds the Christmas holidays is shattered when the Rev. Paul Appel is found brutally murdered inside the church and untrampled show which enveloped the church suggests that the killer is still inside.

And if one of the world's religious leaders is a murderer, what then? Sherlock Holmes and his faithful scribe, Dr. Watson, are called in by Holmes' older brother Mycroft now a high-ranking British official in hopes that the renowned detective can quickly get to the bottom of the murder before the World even learns about it the next morning. But even Holmes finds the multi-layered puzzle all he can handle in one busy night. Enter a humble young priest, Father Brown, who proves to be Holmes' match with his skills of observation and deduction.

Author Kendrick brings out some of the major players from the past. Lestrade and Holmes now have a softened working relationship, not an adversarial one. Mycroft is the older brother, pudgier than Holmes by far, and brilliant, but without the sharp edge of his brother. Watson, of course, the humble friend and biographer, is perhaps the most unchanged of all in his loyalty. And then there's Holmes. While he's still driven by his sharp intellect and enjoyment of the chase, he's more pensive, obviously more tired than Arthur Conan Doyle's younger Holmes.

It's almost too much much to even start to explain the various and many puzzles involved. Author Kendrick who has served as a minister in the U.S. and England weaves facets of various World religions into the plot, along with a healthy dose of danger and chases over snow-covered church roofs and along ice-clogged rivers.

It's not a perfect reproduction of Doyle's Holmes books. For instance, at one point Holmes, answering a question by Watson, says: "Well, for one, they had years of opportunity to kill.." It seems more likely that Holmes would say something like: "Watson, old chap, you must learn to think like a killer. Why wait when they had years of opportunity to kill."

That's nit-picking, however. NIGHT WATCH is an enjoyable novel. In Kendrick's book we are, in effect, saying goodbye to an older Holmes and saying hello to a young Father Brown.although make no mistake, this is first and foremost a Sherlock Holmes (and Watson) mystery. Read on. The game's afoot once more in the latest of a never-ending string of Sherlock Holmes pastiches.

Reviewed by Gary Svoboda, September 2003

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