Sherlock Holmes: Legacy of Deeds

30 Aug

London 1894: People have been mysteriously poisoned at a Covent Garden art gallery; and a Russian Grand Duke is asking for Holmes to find the murderer of his manservant.

Are these two cases for Holmes… or only one? Add in an apparent suicide at a girl’s school and you have the recipe for an exciting and absorbing Sherlock Holmes mystery.

“Sherlock Holmes: Legacy of Deeds” by Nick Kyme is well plotted and well written, as well as relatively well researched.

Sherlock Holmes is nicely ascerbic, without being too ill-mannered. John Watson has a nice balance of outrage and sass, as well as being a valuable partner to Holmes, not a patsy. A well balanced Holmes/Watson team.

The Scotland Yard inspector involved in this case is Tobias Gregson. Nick Kyme pads Gregson out nicely. He managed to make my least favourite yarder quite likeable. I am hoping he writes more Holmes/Watson/Gregson offerings in the future.

Highly recommended.

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Strange Practice

21 Aug

In “Strange Practice” by Vivian Shaw we meet Dr Greta Helsing, doctor to the supernatural community of London.

Someone has revived an ancient cult that murders supernatural creatures, but now, as well as vampires, they are also turning their attention to anyone they consider evil.

They attack Sir Francis Varney who managed to get to the safety of the home of Lord Ruthven, who immediately calls upon Dr Greta Helsing for aid. From this point, it becames a race to identify and stop the cult before London is destroyed.

Yup, that’s Varney the Vampire of the penny dreadfuls, and Dr John Polidori’s infamous Lord Ruthven. Both are actually rather sweet.

This is a fantastic book. Well plotted and extremely well written. Vivian Shaw has a turn of phrase that is delightful. Her description of vampires as sanguivores is delicious.

There are lots of delightful moments. The notorious case of the Vampire of Croglin Low Hall even gets a mention.

An excellent addition to the range of urban/dark fantasy genre.

Highly recommended.

Twisted Prey

20 Aug

“Twisted Prey” the latest Lucas Davenport novel by John Sandford is more thriller than crime novel, dealing, as it does, with the attempted assassination of a US senator.

So much for the plot. Actually, I can’t say much about the plot without giving too much away. Suffice to say my opening sentence pretty much encapsulates the basics.

The book is actually so slow in the beginning that I almost gave up, but decided to keep going. I’m glad I did. Suddenly the book took off and it was vintage John Sandford.

The character of Letty appears to be going in a disturbing direction.  One that I am not sure that I like.

There were shocks and jolts, then the ending seemed to be dribbling away to nothing, before John Sandford had one last shock up his sleeve.

The result is one hell of a read. Highly recommended.

The Killing Habit

23 Jul

In “The Killing Habit” by Mark Billingham there is someone killing cats in London. DI Tom Thorne from homicide is handed the case, because his superiors fear that what they are dealing with is a serial killer in training.

Meanwhile, DI Nicole Tanner, now with homicide and recovering from the traumas of the previous book, is dealing with the killing of a Syrian refugee.

Slowly, the strands of both cases weave together.

This is a superb book from Mark Billingham. Shot through, as are all his books, with the dark sense of humour that police officers the world over need as a survival mechanism.

The book is well plotted, well written, and has a bloody great twist in the tail at the end of the book. One that left me shocked.

Highly recommended.

The Mechanical Devil

19 Jul

“The Mechanical Devil” is the most recent novel by Kate Ellis.  Sadly, Ms Ellis isn’t as well known in Australia as she deserves to be.  Her books are always interesting.

In “The Mechanical Devil” a man and a woman are found in a field…shot…and the last person to see the woman has gone missing.

With a double murder, and a missing person. DI Wesley Peterson really doesn’t have time for a break-in at the home of a person he assisted the previous year. Perhaps he should have made the time…

Meanwhile, Dr Neil Watson is dealing with the discovery of a 16th century automaton, and then a much more recent death… which may tie into Wesley’s cases.

A fantastically plotted tale of murder and madness.

A thoroughly delicious read.

Highly recommended.

Apologies for my abscence

11 Jul

I didn’t mean to be gone for so long.

First, I went on two weeks holiday to London where I had a marvellous time.

Things went wrong when I got back.  I ended up spending a week in hospital and another 4 weeks as sick as hell.

I am slowly recovering and proper blog posts will recommence as soon as I read a really good book I want to share with you.

 

The House At Baker Street

11 Apr

“The House at Baker Street” is the first novel for author Michelle Birkby.

When Sherlock Holmes turns away a potential client, Martha Hudson and Mary Watson step into the breech.

A marvellous story with action, adventure, much warmth between the characters, and real character depth.

Martha Hudson and Mary Watson miostly flit around the edges of the canon stories, the exception being Mary’s leading role in “The Sign of the Four”. This book fleshes out both women, making it obvious why Holmes remains at Baker Street, and just what Watson sees in Mary.

I do not have the room to keep all but the very best (in my opinion) books in my small Sherlock Holmes library. “The House at Baker Street” is the latest addition to that library and will be read many, many times in the future.

I cannot recommend this book too highly.

The Scarlet Coven

22 Mar

“The Scarlet Coven” is a new novel by acclaimed Holmesian David Stuart Davies, published by independent publishing company Urbane Publications.

Simon Finch is a retired police officer in New York in 1936. His wife Laura is an artist. When Carleton Ross approaches them at the Alonquin about his missing sister, they get drawn into a macabre and terrifying affair.

Think Dashiell Hammett meets Dennis Wheatley. The only thing missing is Wheatley’s usual priest with an entire baggage carousel of angst.

Simon and Laura are Nick and Nora Charles with added sass. Actually, when I think about it, they lean a little more towards Neil Simon’s Dick and Dora Charleston from “Murder by Death”. Because I admit that I visualized them as David Niven and Maggie Smith!

The plot has all the delicious absurdities that Dennis Wheatley espoused, complete with scary Satanists with an agenda.

I’d categorize the book as Paranormal Noir.  Make of that what you will.

Loved it.

Can we have more Simon and Laura, please?

Academia Obscura

28 Feb
I first came across “Academia Obscura” by Glen Wright via the Twitter account @AcademiaObscura. This is an account that points out the lighter, sometimes absurb, often downright freaking oddball, aspects of life as an academic.

Now I have several academic friends and I have listened to their tales of woe (and student ignorance) at length. Not to mention the fact that I aspired to the academic life myself, though due to circumstances, was unable to reach it. Hell, my English teacher and I already had the title of my first paper worked out! Watership Down: Rabbits and the Traditional Arthurian Quest Motif. The thing is, after reading this book, that putative paper sounds sane and sensible!

I frequently laughed aloud at the sheer ridiculousness of some of the papers mentioned in the book. The scary thing is that the majority were science papers! Though most of the laughs came from the comfortable style, and quirky comments and footnotes of author Glen Wright.

WARNING: This is one book where you MUST read the footnotes. You will miss too much if you don’t. Hell, the footnotes alone are worth the price of the book.

A must read for anyone who is an academic, knows an academic, aspires to be an academic, or has a twisted sense of humour.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll sit here and give some serious thought to actually writing that paper.

A Scandal in Battersea

18 Feb
“A Scandal in Battersea” by Mercedes Lackey is a direct sequel to “A Study in Sable”, in fact the villain of the piece is a character who was mentioned in passing in the first book.

Nan, Sarah, John & Mary Watson, and even Lord Alderscroft are indulging young Suki in all the trappings of Christmas. But along side the joy and the fun, something dark is brewing.

A magician finds a hand written book and deliberately sets forth to let an ancient horror loose in this world. The only clues are the mindless young women wandering the streets of London, and a young lass in a private insane asylum who is anything but insane.

As the darkness gathers, Sherlock Holmes must once again join forces with the others to battle something he could not even imagine ever existed.

Absolutely loved this book. My copy was a library one, so now I’m on the hunt for a copy for my collection.

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