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Thursday, 16 February 2017

‘The Sign of Fear' by Robert Ryan

Published by Simon & Schuster,
1 December 2017.
ISBN 978-1-4711-3512-5

This is a further adventure for Dr. Watson in the war-torn London of 1917.   He deals with his grief at a recent death of a woman by sublimating himself in his work at a hospital.  He becomes aware of a disappearance of a man he knows and gradually realises that others have gone too and that they have been kidnapped.  The horrible truth of their likely fate is slowly revealed and provide a ghastly leitmotif through the story.

Dr Watson is an indomitable man and he struggles against time to unravel the several puzzles with which he is faced.  He has assistance from several sources - some are very unlikely - but he also faces barriers to his enquiries and deliberate sabotaging of his efforts.  The bombing of London provides a horrible and apposite background.

This is a story with multiple viewpoints and numerous characters as strange events are linked together coming to a climax as the story reaches an end.  The tale is packed with excitement, interesting characters and some real shocks and horrors.  There are some people who really existed used here with characters from previous books reappearing; the layers of real and fictional link together effectively (remembering that our hero and Holmes are doubly fictional)!
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
Dr Watson features in three previous books set during the First World War.

Robert Ryan was born in Liverpool and moved south to attend university. He graduated from Brunel with a M.Sc. in Environmental Pollution Science, intending to go into teaching. Instead, he spent two years as a mechanic for a Hot Rod team, racing highly tuned Fords (“the fag-end of motorsport”, as Bernie Ecclestone calls it) where he became addicted to the smell of Castrol R. Weaning himself off that, he became a lecturer in Natural Sciences in Kent, while dabbling in journalism. His articles on comic (or graphic novels as they were just becoming known) gurus Alan Moore and Frank Miller found their way into Nick Logan’s The Face magazine, which led to work for the American edition of GQ, The Guardian, Sunday Times, Telegraph and Arena. Eventually he took a position on staff at The Sunday Times as Deputy Travel Editor. It was while on assignment in Seattle that he came across the setting for his first novel, Underdogs – the ‘lost’ city beneath the sidewalks of downtown – that was called ‘Alice in Wonderland meets Assault on Precinct 13’ by Esquire.
He continues to contribute to The Sunday Times. He lives in North London with his wife, three children, a dog and a deaf cat.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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