The Reichenbach Problem by Martin Allison Booth (Lion Hudson, €11.50 / £7.99)

With the new series of Sherlock underway to great fanfare on TV, all things relating to Conan Doyle and his great detective are in vogue. Here is an unusual take on the genre. Martin Booth was once a TV writer and producer, but is now a parish priest. This story which deals with a visit which Conan Doyle actually made to Switzerland and from which he brought back the germ of The Final Problem, finding a way, so he hoped, of disposing of Holmes once and for all. But this is a novel and tells a tale of its own. It has great narrative drive as Holmes attempts to solve the mysterious death of a fellow tourist.  But his search for truth also involves the search for other kinds of truth. The fictional Doyle has to face (as the real Doyle did) challenges relating to his faded Catholicism and his concern with survival after death. A central character is the local parish priest with whom he has several long discussions about these matters, discussions that lead eventually to a solution of the crime, but not perhaps of Conan Doyleís own spiritual agonies.  For those already engaged with the Sherlock Holmes saga, and they are legion, this is great entertainment, with a serious purpose though. P.C.