Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Riddle of The Golden Monkeys - Loren D. Estleman

Story: The Riddle of The Golden Monkeys
Author: Loren D. Estleman
Source: The Perils of Sherlock Holmes
Loren D. Estleman is the author of nearly seventy novels, including the long-running Amos Walker, private detective series, Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula & Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Holmes. The Perils of Sherlock Holmes (Authorized and licensed by Estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) consists of 7 Holmes pastiches, 3 essays and “The Serpent’s Egg”, intended as the first chapter of a collaborative ‘round robin’ novel that never came off. The author points out in the first essay that this collection of short stories is the first single-author collection of Holmes short stories published since Doyle’s own The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes (although The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes may be the exception; presented as a collaboration between Adrian Conan Doyle & John Dickson Carr, it may in fact have been written entirely by Carr).
This is a breezy read and one can see Holmes solving cases in both England & America, meeting his contemporaries like Sax Rohmer, Wyatt Earp, late of Tombstone & Dr. Holliday. There is even a story where the great Holmes fails to find a suitable solution to an interesting problem. All in all, it’s a thrill ride for the readers to dive into these thrilling investigations of literature’s most famous sleuth!
In the Riddle of The Golden Monkeys, it’s the great Sax Rohmer himself, the creator of Dr. Fu-Manchu, who consults Holmes to solve a perplexing riddle. Sax Rohmer reveals that the character of Dr. Fu-Manchu was based upon a Chinese master criminal known only as Mr.King, who was the principal supplier of opium to the whole of London. To the author’s dismay (Rohmer’s), he meets Mr. King on the streets of London, which invariably leads to him being kidnapped by him. Mr. King and several of his clients have read Rohmer’s first collection The Mystery of Dr. Fu-Manchu and they all have no problem in recognizing the character of Dr. Fu as none other than Mr. King. And this is creating business problems for Mr. King. Hence the ransom for Rohmer’s release - The Character of Fu-Manchu should never be featured in another book! Rohmer declines saying that the second book featuring his exploits has already been submitted to the publisher and is due to hit the market pretty soon. Mr. King releases Rohmer from captivity on one condition – that he should solve the riddle of the Golden Monkeys – the message being depicted by the 13 monkeys in various shapes and forms carved on the golden bowl which has been given as a gift to Rohmer (by Mr. King) in a span of 3 days. And Rohmer has no other option but to consult the greatest living detective to solve this conundrum and save his life!
In addition to the wonderful solution by Holmes, the story has one other highlight – the interaction between Rohmer and Watson - on the characters they have written about in their respective journals!

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