This is a very engaging mystery, utterly perplexing 'til the answer is finally revealed.
Clue by clue, red herring by red herring, this book keeps your attention as you follow the sleuth... and the sleuth is the Arthur Conan Doyle himself! And as you would expect, the most exciting part of watching Sherlock's own author investigate a real murder is the way his mind works. His deductions and observations amazed me... imagine what would happen if we all cultivated these powers of reasoning and looked this closely at everything.
The descriptions in the writing are multi-sensory. In the passage about riding the dog-cart up the hill through the fog in the Switzerland forest, I could feel the cool mist, experience the shrouded vision, smell the woodsy scent, hear the hush around them and the noise of the cart, and feel the bumps and rattles as the cart went along.
This is also a book that you could have about 20 conversations based off it.
The Reichenbach Problem is the first of a trilogy, and so there will be two more books to develop the themes that we see highlighted in this volume. Some of those themes include "spiritualism"... euphemistic for witchcraft. Though it is unclear whether the woman is really practicing that, even in her own mind, I still hated reading about it at all.
This book is full of fodder for good, hard thinking. Statements made my Doyle himself, by Father Vernon, by fellow guests at the inn who find themselves part of the mystery, add depth to the story as you try to untangle what they actually believe, and then you can mentally counter it with Scripture.
And because I can't resist, I am including C. S Lewis's thoughts on "The Historical Jesus," a field of study that Father Vernon though would greatly disturb and then re-arrange the church.
That was yet another of his opinions that is worth thinking about, debating about, and most of all studying Scripture to shed light on it.
My dear Wormwood....
You will find that a good many Christian-political writers think that Christianity began going wrong, and departing from the doctrine its Founder, at a very early stage. Now this idea must be used by us to encourage once again the conception of a ‘historical Jesus’ to be found by clearing away later ‘accretions and perversions’ and then to be contrasted with the whole Christian tradition. In the last generation we promoted the construction of such a ‘historical Jesus’ on liberal and humanitarian lines; we are now putting forward a new ‘historical Jesus’ on Marxian, catastrophic, and revolutionary lines. The advantages of these constructions, which we intend to change every thirty years or so, are manifold. In the first place they all tend to direct men’s devotion to something which does not exist, for each ‘historical Jesus’ is unhistorical. The documents say what they say and cannot be added to; each new ‘historical Jesus’ therefore has to be got out of them by suppression at one point and exaggeration at another, and by that sort of guessing (brilliant is the adjective we teach humans to apply to it) on which no one would risk ten shillings in ordinary life, but which is enough to produce a crop of new Napoleons, new Shakespeares, and new Swifts, in every publisher’s autumn list. In the second place, all such constructions place the importance of their historical Jesus in some peculiar theory He is supposed to have promulgated. He has to be a ‘great man’ in the modern sense of the word—one standing at the terminus of some centrifugal and unbalanced line of thought —a crank vending a panacea. We thus distract men’s minds from who He is, and what He did....
The ‘historical Jesus’ then, however dangerous He may seem to be to us at some particular point, is always to be encouraged....
Thank you Kregel for my review copy!