Sherlock Holmes Solo Mysteries
Der Adler von Yorkshire (German)
Un duel dans le Yorkshire (French)
Un duello d'altri tempi (Italian)
El honor de la artillería ligera de Yorkshire (Spanish)
Horne, Daniel R.
Versandi, Bob (interior)
|Length:||505 sections plus prologue|
|User Summary:||Every year, Colonel Alexander Dunlop holds in his estate a reenactment of an historical duel. During this year's event, a valuable relic from the Napoleonic Wars is going to be exhibited at the Colonel's house. Your job as a private investigator is to protect the relic from being stolen. But what if suddenly you found yourself having to solve a sinister mystery?|
(review based on the Spanish translation)
This is an excellent gamebook. Instead of having the player investigate a previously committed crime, all the action takes place in a weekend, during which the player is kept in constant tension as the prospect of a criminal striking at any moment rears its head. Most of the adventure takes place as a purely social gathering in a very mundane way, with plenty of interaction and conversations with nonplayer characters. Plenty of incidents happen, some of which may be relevant while others aren't. This kind of book would probably feel extremely dull to a kid or teenager looking for an action-adventure story. When I first read it as a teenager, however, I loved it, and I still do today. During the weekend the player is able to learn secret tidbits about the nonplayer characters, and this is actually necessary, since the person who will commit the crime is among them. As a result, trying to figure out which bits of information are necessary and which are just red herrings before a crime is committed is a nice change of pace from the rest of the series. As said before, the adventure is not without its share of incidents and high-tension situations, so it never really becomes boring. I also appreciated that this is not yet another murder mystery, since the series was really thirsting for variety at this point.
Gameplay is one of this book's strengths. This is actually one of the most challenging books in the series: for starters, skill checks are tough and often unforgiving, and sometimes several skill checks in succession are needed in order to succeed at something critical or important. Furthermore, the player must choose very carefully where to be and what to do at any given time, since obtaining critical clues often depends on it. This is most important since seldom is the player character given a chance to pick up a clue he missed earlier. In other Sherlock Holmes Solo Mysteries books, I would have marked these as flaws, but despite its difficulty, this book is so interesting and engaging it never becomes frustrating.
I also liked the fact that inventory actually makes a difference in this book – at the start of the game you can choose an object from a selection of three, and depending on which object you take, you can improve certain skill rolls or do certain things.
The plot and characters are very well developed. As in a good novel, all characters are related, often in ways that the player will have to discover for him/herself. Since doing this is crucial for offering a solution at the end, trying to guess at the future intentions of each character is quite entertaining. This, coupled with the mandatory detective work the player has to do, makes for a very engaging work of interactive fiction.
Player agency is one of this book's strengths. The way events turn out depends greatly on what the player chooses to do (and also on what s/he succeeds at). If s/he makes the right choices, the player may stop the crime from being committed (though this is not easy to do). Furthermore, if the player does not stop or solve the crime early enough, a second crime may be committed, which is also not easy to solve. All this makes the book very interesting and complex.
I realize that my review is probably not doing enough justice to this excellent book. Suffice it to say that it is a very unique and innovative gamebook that is worth reading in order to find out what sets it apart from the rest of the pack. In my opinion, this is Gerald Lientz at his best, and I'm talking about an excellent author, so I hope my words carry weight. I recommend you read this after you've read some of the other books in this series, so you'll appreciate its uniqueness and quality.
|Special Thanks:||Thanks to Guillermo Paredes for the plot summary.|
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