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Dead Man’s Land

by Robert Ryan

Reviewed by Pete for ABC 1062 A Novel Idea radio segment on February 21, 2013

Any Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson fans out there?  I would say ‘yes’ given the popularity and revitalization of the characters by the recent movies and TV Series Sherlock and Elementary.  The book I am reviewing today is more a Dr John Watson story but Holmes does make appearances.

The book is set in the early years of World War I on the battlefields of France.  Dr Watson has had a falling out with Holmes who is enjoying his retirement back in England. Dr Watson has offered his medical services to the Royal Army Medical Corps and is assigned to the casualty clearing stations on the Western front to teach medical teams about the new procedures of blood transfusion.

For Watson, despite his aging years, it is all about helping save the lives of the thousands of young men that are getting wounded in the trenches everyday.  Major Watson (the rank he is given in the army) brings with him extensive medical knowledge, his knowledge of warfare after serving with the British Army in Afghanistan (mind you that was years ago and Watson soon discovers this is a very different war) and he also brings with him a certain celebrity status – as Holmes sidekick and the writer of their adventures together.

It isn’t long before Watson comes across a murder, and there seems to be no better place to commit and try and disguise murder than in the blood and mayhem of the trenches.

The murderer didn’t reckon on Watson being around but before he investigates he must first enlist the help of those around him, including beautiful and mysterious Mrs Gregson of the Voluntary Aid Detachment , Staff Nurse Jennings, Caspar Myles the American volunteer doctor,  and even Churchill himself.

What a great story!  I can’t recommend this historical crime novel enough.  Great mystery and suspense, plenty of historical detail, fantastic characters to sink your teeth into and a real mystery that will keep you guessing almost to the end – just don’t read the last chapter first!

I haven’t Robert Ryan for quite a few years but after reading this I had the urge to go back to where I left off and try and catch up with those books I missed.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Year published: 2013
Pete for ABC 1062 A Novel Idea radio segment‘s rating: 10 out of 10

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