Should one author pick up the settings or characters from another? Is that an homage to their brilliance and a welcome extension of the creations, or is it an excuse for second-rate knock-offs? Those sorts of questions can cause heated debates when someone pens a book using settings or characters from previous highly successful novelists. In John Lescroart’s case with the Son Holmes such debates are, alas, unlikely to arise because the book is too mediocre to be firm ground on which to defend such writing practices.
Nominally about the son of Sherlock Holmes trying to crack a crime in France during the First World War, the Conan Doyle overtones are in fact superfluous for the links to the original are so weak it could be Son of Dupin with the book barely having to change.
As for the plot itself, as a murdering spy is traced down, it is mediocre stuff. The chain of events and logic which result in the criminal being identified skates plausibility, not to mention the flaw in the supposedly highly secure arms factory on which a key part of the plot hinges. There are a good few clichés along the way, including the independent but ultimately subservient female characters and the dénouement with all the suspects in one room.
The slow pace of the action would work with well-developed characters or high-quality descriptive prose. But the book has neither and so never really works.
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