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Death on a Pale Horse - Sherlock Holmes investigates...
John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 957
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Snow - the curse of a British Spring day put pay to my plans to drive to the RLC Museum, what to do instead I pondered: watch a Blu-ray; read a book or trawl the internet. I opted for the latter and came across Death on a Pale Horse - Sherlock Holmes on Her Majesty's Secret Service by Donald Thomas.

The cover caught my eye the well-known illustration of the Prince Imperial of France from The Illustrated London News special edition. From what I can gather from the blurb relating to the book Holmes is tasked with investigating not only the death of Prince Imperial, but also that of Jahleel Carey. An intrigue worthy of Conan Doyle himself, who I am convinced owned a copy of MacKinnon & Shadbolt, but that's another story.

There is an e-book preview of the first chapter which sets the scene for the Battle of Isandlwana. The chapter is riddled with errors of fact but this is a work of fiction, and maybe in time I'll forgive the author for all the Welshmen and the Gatling Guns and might well invest in a copy.

Has anyone read it?

John Y.
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Peter Ewart


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 1797
Location: Near Canterbury, Kent, England.
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John

Seen a synopsis or two, one briefish review and a paragraph or two on google books. I'm among those who find it very difficult - for better or worse - to understand the whole point behind deliberately mixing fact with fiction. Where does one stop and the other start? I see Carey was part of the Prince's "bodyguard." Interesting. He'd have needed the entire Household Cavalry to ensure he survived that campaign and would probably have managed still to get himself killed.

Not for me.

Peter

P.S. Thought we'd escaped all this snow until this morning!
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Maybe Dr Watson assists Holmes in a summary of the battle at Isandlwana, considering the former is supposed to have survived the similar battle at Maiwand a year later.

Military stuff is mostly Watson's strongpoint, if I remember correctly.

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Martin Everett


Joined: 01 Sep 2005
Posts: 781
Location: Brecon
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Peter

This seems to be the start of a quiz - I had a Doctor friend (not Watson) who was fascinated by military mounts...............

Percy, Copenhagen, Morengo and the more difficult one the bravest of them all a chestnut called Ronald.

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Martin Everett
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John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 957
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Martin,

Ronald didn't wear a pullover did he, he wore (or should that be bore) a ...

John Y.
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Colin


Joined: 22 Nov 2017
Posts: 108
Location: U.K.
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I'm annoyed at myself for not paying more interest to this novel, which I intend to get now that I have been reminded of it. I do recall a few years back discussing a possible case for the detective on one of the Holmes Society Groups, calling it - 'Sherlock Holmes And The Isandhlwana Conspiracy', which had Edward Durnford contacting Watson whom he knew through various contacts, in the hope of securing Holmes' help in finding out more about the defeat and the apparently missing Durnford papers which were removed from his body, that contained more than orders, but evidence of....

It did strike a bit of an interest with one of two I think...but they seemed a bit unconvinced he would involve himself in military matters, Watson too, if it involved dealings with both military High Command and Government.

There was a bit of an issue too about the dates, being that Holmes may have only just started becoming a detective, so very early in his career for to have some people meet, but as it would be fiction, well...

Anyway, I liked the idea, having got the Holmes volume with the full collection of novels/short stories.

John Y - why do you think Conan Doyle had a copy of the Mackinnon & Shadbolt book, or were you joking ?
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John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 957
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Colin,

In answer to your question re-Mac’ & Shad’, I will throw two questions back at you.

1, What was the name of the 80th officer slain at Ntombe?

2, What was the full name of the twenty-two year old 2nd Lieutenant of the 3rd/60th who died from disease at Fort Pearson on 25th April 1879?

Then you will have your own answer.

JY
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Colin


Joined: 22 Nov 2017
Posts: 108
Location: U.K.
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John Y - Anything to do with a professor and a hound ?
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John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 957
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Elementary my dear Colin, elementary...

JY
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AMB


Joined: 07 Oct 2005
Posts: 882
Location: Queensland, Australia
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Watson was in Afghanistan, not Zululand.....or was he?!
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John Young


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 957
Location: Lower Sheering, Essex
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Sherlock Holmes upon meeting Dr. John Watson, “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.“ from A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

JY
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Colin


Joined: 22 Nov 2017
Posts: 108
Location: U.K.
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AMB - if looking upon your question for a connection to said novel about Isandhlwana, in John Y's 'They Fell Like Stones', one of the casualties was a Private Watson 31st Foot, who was the General's servant.

Taking this further, for the novel at least, military paperwork then could have been mistaken and there was another Watson present too, the man himself - John Watson - on detached duty perhaps, but meaning there were two by the name of Watson on the Staff, wounded but surviving, making his way along Fugitives' Trail with the rest of the surviving officers in blue patrol jackets, lost to history and possibly rejoining/re-enlisting in time to be involved at Maiwand.

I guess he'd have to have had memory loss after the first engagement, but after his experience at Maiwand, then later contacted by a man with the name Edward Durnford, he began to recollect events and the meeting of this man's brother, obviously senior commander at Isandhlwana, and possibly well-known to each other...hence Edward's knowledge of him ?

Yes, definitely tenuous, but does help to connect the dots for a bit of story-telling involving all the instances leading to the great detective Sherlock Holmes...as he would say himself - "The game's afoot Watson !"

Of course, you could also add to the equation Col. Durnford's friend, General Gordon, a portrait of whom Sherlock has on his lounge wall, not sure if he could also be included assisting on military matters that the case entailed.
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Colin


Joined: 22 Nov 2017
Posts: 108
Location: U.K.
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I've only just read that Arthur Conan Doyle first practiced medicine at - 1 Durnford Street, Plymouth - where there is a blue plaque, and if so, this is an astounding co-incidence with my hypothetical case for a story ?

Also, found out he was close friends with H. Rider Haggard, who wrote Finished, that had Quatermain at Isandhlwana.

There is also another book available from a different author, that appears to team up Holmes and Quatermain on a journey together.
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Colin


Joined: 22 Nov 2017
Posts: 108
Location: U.K.
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I'm just about to reread 'A Soldier's Life And Work' by Edward Durnford, but only just beginning to read the Preface by himself, which I must have overlooked on the first occasion, but has intrigued me somewhat -

'In the first place, I must apologise for any shortcomings arising from the hindrance I have experienced, owing to my brother's papers having been destroyed at his death, I believe by the "Committee of Adjustment" of his affairs; and thus many valuable papers on Colonial and Native matters, which were in his possession at the latter part of 1878 have disappeared".

Now, who are this committee (emphasised in the book as written above, with the capitals and inverted commas) and why would they, knowing the rank Durnford had when killed, destroy these private documents, that normally should have been passed on to his family, even if on death his other material belongings should have been sold off ?

His letters and any documents in his name are personal of no worth other than to family, so why be destroyed ?

This is curious and very much the kind of 'data' that would interest Holmes.
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Paul Bryant-Quinn


Joined: 14 Oct 2007
Posts: 538
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I believe that Watson’s Maiwand injuries are mentioned in A Study in Scarlet (1887), The Sign of the Four (1890), and in a short story entitled ‘The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor’ (1892). I'd be interested to know of other references to this.

Regards to all,

Paul
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Death on a Pale Horse - Sherlock Holmes investigates...
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