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Sherlock Holmes and the Charlie Chaplin Affair

By Val Andrews

This, the last of Val Andrews’ Sherlock Holmes pastiches, blends fact with fiction to tell the tale of one Charlie Chaplin …

At the heart of the story is Hannah Chaplin, who was born in London in 1865. She was the mother of Charlie Chaplin, and was an actress, singer and dancer in her own right. She performed in music halls under her stage name of Lily Harley from the age of sixteen, and even toured North America in 1890, just a year after giving birth to Charlie and at a time when her health was starting to give cause for concern. As a consequence, she spent spells in asylums while her son’s career was taking off in America.

No wonder, then, that Chaplin visits a retired Sherlock Holmes to try and track down his mother who he has not seen for some years. Holmes and Watson accept the case, which will entail Watson going undercover as a ‘resting’ music hall entertainer. The story mirrors real life, as Chaplin had Hannah brought to America in 1921 where she was cared for in a house in the San Fernando Valley until her death in 1928.

Sherlock Holmes and the Charlie Chaplin Affair is a fitting finale to Andrews’ popular series, and will no doubt be appreciated by all who have read the other books. However, it is also likely to please Sherlock Holmes fans, as well as readers of historical crime and murder mysteries.

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