Perseverance, Mar 2004, 13.95, 264 pp.
In 1903 in Sussex Downs Victorian widow and single parent of a preadolescent Charlotte Dodson does a great job managing the household staff for her employer, retired military officer Major Sir Arthur Fallowes, However, when Fallowes dies, Charlotte realizes how tenuous her satiation is as she prays that the new owner keeps her and the staff on at Larchbanks Manor.
The new resident, Mr. Sigerson keeps Charlotte on at least temporarily. Charlotte finds her new boss weird as he uses the library to work with bees for a book he's authoring on the insects. Meanwhile Charlotte learns from her deceased former boss's solicitor William Bagshaw that Fallowes left her with the Orb of Kezir, a valuable gem that is missing somewhere in the house. While she trusts no one fearing theft, someone kills the vicar's sister Miss Evaline Hanover. The only clues are the time of death occurred just after she returned home from a visit to Larchbanks and that her neck has two vampire-like bite marks. While rumors abound about a bloodsucker, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson investigate the case though Charlotte is wary of the famous sleuth walking off with her jewel.
Though Holmes, the who-done-it, and the missing gem take a support role, fans of Victorian tales will appreciate this vividly delightful charmer in which Charlotte and her woes play the prime role. The story line contains several subplots that nicely blend together. The cast is strong even without Mr. Holmes, but adding Sherlock and his compatriot makes more fun for the audience as the ensemble brings out a bygone age intermingled with the sleuthing.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner