Review by Win Wiacek
Pompous, irascible Colonel Sir Harold Wilberforce Clifton is ex-RAF, a former officer with the Metropolitan Police Constabulary and recently retired from MI5. He takes every opportunity to get back in the saddle, assisting Her Majesty’s Government or needy individuals as an amateur sleuth. He occupies his idle hours with as many good deeds as befits a man of his standing and service, and is particularly dedicated to sharing the benefits of organised Scouting with the younger generations.
As the cover and title might lead you to deduce, Elementary, My Dear Clifton takes its lead from that unflinching bastion of British fiction Sherlock Holmes, but not quite in the way you might imagine. This rollicking caper begins with the old soldier and his svelte sidekick Jade inspecting a fleet of outrageously expensive luxury cars before getting into a headbanging prang whilst driving home in Clifton’s own stylish sports-roadster.
When he regains consciousness, Jade is missing, abducted by a shadowy figure from the vintage car which forced him off the road.
After another frustrating and infuriating interview with Highway Code martinet and personal gadfly Constable Strawberry, Clifton sets in motion the wheels of protocol that will enable his intelligence community contacts to find the missing assistant, before staggering home to bed and passing out.
Next morning, he finds his multi-talented housekeeper Mrs. Partridge chatting with a distinguished gentleman. Clothed in outmoded attire, “the Doctor” claims to know what’s happened to Jade but if Clifton wants to save her he’ll have to return with him to October 7th 1912!
The physician claims that he and his partner – a certain unnamed consulting detective – were on the trail of a nefarious inventor named Professor Hamilton. That villain was nosing about the preparations for the gala celebrations of a Maharaja on the eve of a sumptuous nuptial event when the Doctor fortuitously trailed him to a warehouse and saw him vanish into a bizarre contraption. Having keenly observed, the stealthy stalker then followed and ended up here and now.
Refusing to believe the cock-and-bull story but equally unable to disprove the evidence before him Clifton eventually concedes defeat and follows the crime doctor back in time and into his strangest adventure ever.
What follows is a hilarious and gripping romp from regular scribe Bob De Groot and 21st century artist Michel Rodrigue. It has eerie personal echoes and foreshadowings for our temporally-misplaced manhunter in a ripping yarn all devotees of crime capers and time travels will love.
Funny, fast and furiously thrill-packed, Elementary, My Dear Clifton reveals hidden depths to our Old Soldier whilst playing deliriously fast and loose with history It’s a confection guaranteed to astound and delight thrill and laughter-addicts of every age.