Author: Vaughn Entwistle
Publication: Minotaur Books (March 25, 2014)
Description: Arthur Conan Doyle has just killed off Sherlock Holmes in “The Final Problem,” and he immediately becomes one of the most hated men in London. So when he is contacted by a medium “of some renown” and asked to investigate a murder, he jumps at the chance to get out of the city. The only thing is that the murder hasn’t happened yet—the medium, one Hope Thraxton, has foreseen that her death will occur at the third séance of a meeting of the Society for Psychical Research at her manor house in the English countryside.
Along for the ride is Conan Doyle’s good friend Oscar Wilde, and together they work to narrow down the list of suspects, which includes a mysterious foreign Count, a levitating magician, and an irritable old woman with a “familiar.” Meanwhile, Conan Doyle is enchanted by the plight of the capricious Hope Thraxton, who may or may not have a more complicated back-story than it first appears. As Conan Doyle and Wilde participate in séances and consider the possible motives of the assembled group, the clock ticks ever closer to Hope’s murder, in The Revenant of Thraxton Hall by Vaughn Entwistle.
My Thoughts: THE REVENANT OF THRAXTON HALL was an excellent and engaging story that sent chills up my spine on numerous occasions. Arthur Conan Doyle has just killed off his beloved Sherlock Holmes when he is invited to a home and asked to help prevent the future murder of a noted medium. Despite the fact that his beloved wife Louisa is dying of consumption, Conan Doyle and his friend Oscar Wilde make their way to the isolated Thraxton Hall. When they arrive at the dilapidated Gothic pile they find and unique assortment of psychic investigators there to take part in a series of psychic investigations.
Among the psychic investigators are a noted American psychic named Daniel Dunglas Hume, a psychic investigator named Frank Podmore who used to be a fan of Hume's but is now out to debunk him, a mysterious masked foreign Count, and a haughty English aristocrat. Rounding out the cast of eccentric characters is Madame Zhozhovsky who is a famous psychic herself and Hope, Lady Thraxton who has seen that she will die by being shot in the chest at the third seance.
The house itself, with its rotting rooms and creaky staircases, is a character in this story. Conan Doyle also sees a variety of ghosts there including a young girl in a blue dress. The villain of the story is the ghost that Lady Thraxton most often channels. Mariah Thraxton, who was the scorned wife of the third Lord Thraxton, was killed by her husband for conducting a seance but cursed the family before dying. The family has since suffered about 100 years of bad luck and unfortunate circumstances.
The story is moody and atmospheric. It was very Gothic in tone. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde. Wilde provided a touch of lightness in what was otherwise a very dark tale. I was pleased to learn that a second case for Doyle and Wilde is in the works. I will certainly be reading it.
"I think you underestimate public sentiment, Arthur. You would have been more popular had you beaten the prime minister to death with a puppy whilst he was speaking before a crowd of widows and orphans."I got this eARC from St. Martin's via NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.