Blood to the Bone
By Andrew Salmon
A Fight Card book.
Among today’s writers of New Pulp fiction, two men have risen to the top of their generation’s class in writing new Sherlock Holmes mysteries. One of these is Canadian Andrew Salmon, the other is British and I’ll let you guess at his identity. Last year, after having penned a half dozen traditional Homes and Watson tales for Airship 27 Productions best selling series, “Sherlock Holmes – Consulting Detective,” Salmon accepted an offer from Paul Bishop, the creator of the popular Fight Card series, to write a Sherlock Holmes boxing story. The result was “Work Capital,” one of the finest Sherlock Holmes tales this reviewer has ever enjoyed. That it went on to be nominated for several publishing awards came as no surprise to anyone who had had the pleasure of reading that novella.
Now Salmon and the Fight Card crew have given us a sequel that is as good, if not better, than its predecessor in “Blood to the Bone.” Again, as he did before, Salmon digs deep into the history of British bare-knuckles fighting and offers up an amazing plot heavily dependent on the incredible fact that that form of pugilism was not confined to men. I had never heard of the fairer sex’s participation in this rough and tumble sport and reading through the story was truly amazed at this revelation. As he did in “Work Capital,” Salmon cleverly puts forth authentic facts and then weaves his elements of fiction around them so that the two become symbiotic. Thus leaving the reader with both having experienced a wonderful read while at the same time expanding his or her education on the history of boxing.
Eby Stokes and her husband, Richard, are boxers who work for a traveling circus and often fight together in tag-team fashion taking on challengers from the audience, both men and women alike. When Richard goes missing just prior to their new engagement just outside of London, Eby seeks out the aid of Mr. Sherlock Holmes and his faithful chronicler, Dr. Watson. Watson is quick to point out that Holmes’ interest in the manly art of fisticuffs was of a scientific nature and he relished any opportunity to study the martial sport and increase his own considerable abilities in that field.
In short order, Holmes and Watson find the missing boxer only to have him snatched away and murdered within a matter of minutes of their locating him. If Richard Stokes disappearance had piqued the Great Detective’s curiosity, the man’s cruel murder instantly stokes that flame into an obsessive flame. Having established a warm rapport with the lovely Eby Stokes, Holmes devotes himself to solving the murder and bringing her husband’s killers to justice. But to do so, he will have to disguise himself as a professional fighter and Eby’s new partner in the circus bouts. Something dear old Watson objects to soundly.
I’ve always believed that one of the greatest challenges in writing Sherlock Holmes isn’t so much detailing his exploits and understanding Dr. Watson. All too often, less accomplished writers forget Watson is very much his own man and his relationship with the bachelor sleuth wasn’t always smooth sailing. Such is the case in this adventure and the contentious head-butting between the two companions is what makes the book especially entertaining. Salmon channels the stodgy old Afghan veteran brilliantly and in doing so brings us intimately into his tale. We are spellbound from the first page to the last.
“Blood to the Bone,” is a magnificent addition to the Holmes canon and should be in the library of every Holmes enthusiast in the world. Yes, it is that good and I honestly believe Conan Doyle would have truly loved reading this book. I know I did and believe so will you too. Thanks Andrew Salmon and Fight Club. This book is a treasure.