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August 20, 2008 / C.T. Henry

REVIEW OF THE WEEK: The Patient’s Eyes

Written by the screenwriter of the BBC’s Murder Rooms (2001), this mystery chronicles Arthur Conan Doyle’s first meeting with the eccentric Dr. Joseph Bell. Providing the basis for Sherlock Holmes, Bell and his “method” are put to the test with a number of cases, but the series of events surrounding a beautiful patient of Doyle’s is the most sinister. As a fan of the short-lived television series, I bought the book as soon as I heard about it. Surprisingly, the book did not strictly follow the episodes that I had seen. Pirie’s evocative writing perfectly captures the memoirs of a troubled man recalling his dark past. The author also has a talent for creating an ominous, foreboding atmosphere. I’d recommend this mystery to avid Sherlock Holmes fans, but also to anyone who wants to read a dark, thrilling story.

Book Synopsis: While a young medical student at Edinburgh, Arthur Conan Doyle famously studied under the remarkable Dr Joseph Bell. Taking this as a starting point, David Pirie has woven a compelling thriller, which partners Bell and Doyle as pioneers in criminal investigation, exploring the strange underworld of violence and sexual hypocrisy running below the surface of the Victorian era. “The Patient’s Eyes” moves from Edinburgh and the strange circumstances surrounding Doyle’s meeting with the remarkable Joseph Bell to Southsea where he begins his first medical practice. There he is puzzled by the symptoms presented by Heather Grace, a sweet young woman whose parents have died tragically several years before. Heather has a strange eye complaint, but is also upset by visions of a phantom cyclist who vanishes as soon as he is followed. This enigma, however, is soon forgotten as Doyle finds himself embroiled in more threatening events – including the murder of a rich Spanish businessman – events that call for the intervention of the eminent Dr Bell.But despite coming to Doyle’s aid, perversely Dr Bell considers the murder of Senor Garcia a rather unimportant diversion from the far more sinister matter, which has brought him south: the matter of the patient’s eyes and the solitary cyclist…

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