DiscoverHistorical Mysteries

The Treasure of the Poison King – A Sherlock Holmes Adventure

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Loved it! 😍

The mystery revived Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's specter, and met my three most important criteria - language, cadence and plot complexity.

The Treasure of the Poison King claims to be a Sherlock Holmes tale and ably delivers. The 40,000-word mystery, one of more than 500 released by MX Publishing, revives Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's specter. More, it met my three most important measures - language, cadence and plot complexity. Those elements are what author Paul D. Gilbert provides without fail. Yet, two of the story's details caused a pause.


Those who know Holmes from movies more than read Conan Doyle’s books will be puzzled by Sherlock’s reliance on cigarettes more than pipes. That did not mar the story's authenticity, but as I strove to see it through general reader’s eyes, that small detail hit like an out-of-tune piano key.


Another aspect that prompted pause was the tension level between Holmes and Gilbert’s Inspector Lestrade. I wanted more.


That said, the novel’s characters blend well in a story that chases a mystery wrapped in a puzzle across time and continents. Anyway, as for the stories strongest elements – language, cadence and complexity, readers might be put off to find those develop over time.


The novel’s first chapter is not as representative of Dr. Watson’s voice as the narrative that develops as the story unfolds. Gilbert sounds like Conan Doyle and faithfully includes 19th century speech mannerisms. The narrative voice is built from what Watson mentions and omits. Moreso, the author describes scenes with an uncommon flair for authenticity. At one point he explains:


Naturally, I made good speed there and back, but I arrived with barely enough time to see the results of Holmes’ boisterous and ear-splitting arrangements. Before me stood a bucolic, ancient sea dog, replete right down to an ominous facial scar and wispy white moustache, a disguise which Holmes employed on a few previous occasions.


The story’s cadence or pace is just enough to pull in readers’ interests in a plot that begins with what appears to be an historical footnote – Mithradates’ life and times. As the novel unfolds readers will begin to grasp how the long dead monarch foreshadows Holmes’ ruthless opponent, Count Dragos. More than that, the tale leaps forward as suspicious characters help the detective and the narrator to understand the real treasure.


Reviewed by

I am a retired Creative Writing professor who teaches and writes in Central Florida. My fiction, nonfiction and poetry reviews go back more than 30 years in a wide range of publications. In addition to the cited genre areas, I enjoy history, politics, culture, and memoir.

The King of Pontus

About the author

MX Publishing has over 500 Sherlock Holmes books, from short stories to award winning novels and biographies. Over 200 of books have made it into audio and there are more coming. We also have regular campaigns on Kickstarter to promote new projects. view profile

Published on September 08, 2021

Published by MX Publishing

40000 words

Genre: Historical Mysteries

Reviewed by