Friday, August 13, 2010

Sherlock Holmes and Pope Leo XIII?

Last week at the Catholic Writers Conference, I purchased this collection of previously undocumented cases solved by the great Victorian detective, Sherlock Holmes. He teamed up with Pope Leo XIII twice at the Vatican, and the pope even wrote a report on one of the cases when Dr. Watson could not accompany Holmes to Rome.

Murder in the Vatican: The Church Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes contains three stories: "The Death of Cardinal Tosca", "The Vatican Cameos", and "The Second Coptic Patriarch". Within the recounting of these cases, we find out that Pope Leo XIII may have helped Holmes as much as Holmes helped him--after Holmes battled Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls.

Chesterton's Father Brown (first as Deacon Brown) makes two appearances, and names like Henry Cardinal Manning, Nicholas Wiseman, John Henry Newman, and Ambrose St. John drop enticingly.

Writing a brilliant pastiche, Ann Margaret Lewis nevertheless undercovers serious issues in Victorian England: the tension between the newly refounded hierarchy and Queen Victoria, for instance, which precipitates the second mystery, "The Vatican Cameos" and the supposed conflict between faith and reason or religion and science which Holmes and Pope Leo debate.

Ann Margaret Lewis is the President of the Catholic Writers Guild and the organizer of the Catholic Writers Conference LIVE. I only hope Holmes had other cases at the Vatican previously unchronicled for the author to discover.


  1. Thanks for your review, Stephanie. I very much look forward to reading these stories.