The proprietor of my favorite fabric store told me once that the way to make all criticism less harsh was to preface it with “Bless his/her heart . . . .”
So, bless his heart, there is a reason why J. T. McIntyre offered no real competition to Arthur Conan-Doyle, and why Ashton-Kirk was never a convincing rival to Sherlock Holmes. Not for lack of trying, of course. Ashton-Kirk is young, handsome (piercing eyes and all), rich (lives in the comfortably well-appointed family homestead), eccentric in a well-mannered way (said family homestead now in a seedy neighborhood), well-educated (speaks several languages), cultured . . . and the list goes on. And it really is a list, because McIntyre was not a particularly good writer and could not tell you what a character is like without telling you what a character is like. The book just was not interesting, because none of the characters were interesting, and most egregious of all, no one seemed to have a sense of humour, unless it was of the unintended sort: midway through the book, Ashton-Kirk announced that one of the suspects was a short, dapper man who was deaf and knew short hand.
And so it went.