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The Royal Flush

Series: Sherlock Holmes Solo Mysteries #7
Translated Into: Crimen en el Palacio de Buckingham (Spanish)
Intrigo a Buckingham Palace (Italian)
Pour l'honneur de la reine (French)
Author: Creighton, Milt
Illustrators: Horne, Daniel R. (cover)
Versandi, Bob (interior)
Release Date: 1988
Length:406 sections plus prologue.
User Summary: A Buckingham Palace guard is found stabbed in the palace gardens. Since only one of the Royal Family could have done the deed, you are called upon to investigate the crime. Can you solve it before the guard dies and a public scandal develops? And can you dismantle a foreign spy's plans to uncover British state secrets while you are at it?
Guillermo's Thoughts: This is another awesome gamebook in the series. While at first it does not seem that different from the other titles, in that it mostly involves doing detective work and talking to witnesses, it's in fact one of the best experiences I've had with interactive fiction. The writing is very good and the characters are developed effectively, so it's difficult for the reader to distinguish those who actually have useful information from those who are only protecting other secrets which have nothing to do with the case. Nonetheless, uncovering the secrets behind each character's personality is very entertaining, and one of this book's main strengths. The plot is also very interesting, so much that it often felt as if I was taking part in a good, fast-paced but complex detective-espionage film. The story manages to keep the reader in constant tension, first because the investigation must be kept secret, and second because it's a race against time (and in this book, it's possible to run out of time if you are unlucky with die rolls). Even after the murder is solved, the player must stop the spy's plans from coming to fruition, and there is much intrigue, tension and danger involved.

Gameplay is satisfying. Die rolls and choices are usually not too hard, and this is effective here, as the player can usually learn many bits of information easily and thus help the plot develop smoothly. However, die rolls begin to get a bit tougher towards the end, and it is indeed challenging to foil the spy's plans successfully.

The only real problem I have with the book is a minor structure issue. An important (though not crucial) character can only be met and interacted with if the player is successful with certain skill checks. Thus it is possible to complete the book without having met him, which makes the text confusing when he is mentioned in the later parts of the adventure. This flaw could have been remedied if it had been mandatory for the completion of the adventure to actually meet and obtain information from this particular character, but as it stands it makes for a confusing read.

Despite this flaw, this is one of my favourite books in the series, even above the author's previous entry, The Dynamiters. It's a shame this was the last book in the series to be published in English, but if you haven't tried the series yet, seven books should be enough to keep you busy for a while. At the time of this writing it's possible to find each Sherlock Holmes Solo Mysteries book for a cent on amazon.com, and believe me, there are few better ways to spend a single penny.

More reviews by Guillermo

Special Thanks:Thanks to Guillermo Paredes for the plot summary.
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