Sherlock Holmes and the Shadow of the Rat

8 Feb

A novella by noted Sherlockian David Stuart Davies.  “The Shadow of the Rat” is a good little story using Arthur Conan Doyles’s hinted at, but, untold story of The Giant Rat of Sumatra.

The story rips along at a good pace.

The relationship between Holmes and Watson flows smoothly and feels right.  Mr Davies has an excellent grasp on the intricacies of literature’s greatest friendship.

The story has the added bonus of an appearance by Stamford, and, major supporting roles for Mycroft Holmes and Inspector Lestrade.

A wonderfully imaginative take on The Giant Rat of Sumatra.

Highly recommended.

The Big Book of Sherlock Holmes Stories

7 Feb

I felt that the editor, Otto Penzler, was too fixated on the writers rather than the stories, resulting in an extremely unbalanced mix.  Just because P. G. Wodehouse once wrote a Sherlock Holmes short story is no reason to include it, when, frankly, it’s not particularly readable.

I also felt that stories featuring detectives that are derivative of Holmes had no place in the book.  August Dereleth’s Solar Pons, for example.

There were extremely few outstanding stories, and some that were  appallingly bad, but the majority were mediocre.

Best stories by far were by:
Lyndsay Faye;
David Stuart Davies;
Stephen King; and
James C. Iraldi.

I don’t recommend this book to even to most dedicated Sherlockian geek, such as myself.  Far too much disappointment awaits.

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

4 Jan

Having had time to ponder and digest the deliciousness that is “The Abominable Bride”, I have decided to write about it.  Yeah, I know I’m late to the party, but what the hell…

As it wasn’t screened on free-to-air TV in Australia, I went to the cinema to see it.  I think it was probably better suited to the large screen rather than the small, to be perfectly honest.

I was captivated right from the beginning.  I was damn near drooling at Martin Freeman’s narration, which was taking directly from “A Study in Scarlet”.

The plot was so convoluted as to be torturous, but it was a delight.  There were so many canon references, that I will be watching it on dvd for YEARS to capture them all.

I first became suspicious that it was all taking place inside Sherlock’s head when Holmes and Watson went to visit Mycroft at the Diogenes Club.  Whilst Mark Gatiss’ Mycroft was a sterling homage to the canon version (looking very much like Sidney Paget’s illustration for “The Greek Interpreter”), the very Mr Creosote-esque surrounds made me suspect that this was how Sherlock viewed Mycroft (remember the comment of ‘Go Fatty’ in “His Last Vow”?).  I was positive it was all Mind Palace on Sherlock’s second visit when Mycroft came out with the line ‘The virus in the data.’ Anachronism alert!  The Victorians had no idea about computer data, and I’m not even sure they knew what a virus was at that point!

The Reichenbach Falls scene was brilliant.  Loved the fact that Watson saved the day.  The whole sequence seemed to be designed to lay the ghost of Moriarty once and for all.  I suspect that, with the exception of flash-backs, we won’t see Moriarty again.

We got to see and understand some of the complexities surrounding the relationship between Sherlock and Mycroft.

We got a gothic and, at times, downright terrifying ghost story.  That rotting corpse coming to to life had an entire cinema of people shrieking with fear!

Most importantly we got a brilliantly constructed, well writing, extremely interesting episode of “Sherlock”.  Even if it did feel like a 90 minute drug trip!

It was bloody marvellous!

2015 in review

4 Jan

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 23 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Road To Little Dribbling

13 Dec

Bill Bryson is back doing what he is absolutely brilliant at, and that is writing travel books with real warmth and charm.  You can stick the Lonely Planet, I’d rather travel with one of Bryson’s enchanting tomes.

“The Road to Little Dribbling” is Bill Bryson exploring the United Kingdom twenty years after his book “Notes from a Small Island”.

His love for his adopted country shines through on every page.

The thing that makes Bryson’s travel books so special is his eye for minutiae.

The chapter on London was my favourite.  Oh how I would love to see Bill write a book simply about London.

If you love travel and you love the United Kingdom, this book is a must for you.

Highly recommended.

PS: Congratulations to Bill Bryson on becoming a British citizen.  Now can they please make his OBE a genuine one, not an honorary…and I think it’s about time he was elevated to the peerage for services the literature, and tourism.  Lord Bryson of Little Dribbling has an excellent ring to it.

The Herald of Hell

26 Nov

“The Herald of Hell” is the best Paul Doherty novel in ages.

The plot takes place literally days before the Great Revolt of 1381.  So the atmosphere of the book is one of danger and fear.

A clerk from the secret chancery of John of Gaunt is murdered in a brothel. His servant seeks sanctuary at St Erconwalds and is also murdered.  All hell is breaking loose and only Sir Jack Cranston and Brother Athelstan stand in its path.

Well written, fast paced, and damn near unputdownable.  “The Herald of Hell” had me on the edge of my seat many times.

As always, Paul loves his little inside jokes.  He ties the first Hugh Corbett novel, “Satan in St Marys” into the framework of this book.  And, as is his wont, his home town gets a mention.  I think he’s worked it into just about every novel he’s written.

The next book in the series is apparently going to be called “The Great Revolt”, we know how it ends, but I am sure we will loose many of Athelstan’s parishioners before that book ends.  But suffice to say that, in this book, we don’t loose anyone we have come to love, but there is at least one hell of a shock for long time readers of the series.

Highly recommended.  Fantastic book.

Shooting Straight: Guns, Gays, God, and George Clooney

10 Nov

“Shooting Straight: Guns, Gays, God, and George Clooney” by Piers Morgan covers the start of his career at CNN taking over from Larry King.  How he found his feet as a CNN host, and how he found his passionate cause in gun control.

A brilliant, no holds barred, in your face book, that is entertaining, thought provoking, and shocking in equal measure.

Highly recommended, regardless of where you stand on gun control.  In fact, the gun control issue doesn’t come into it until quite late in the book, given that the book is written in diary format.  I like this format from Piers.  It makes it easier to see the linear progression of his experiences.

Piers Morgan writes like he speaks, full of fire, passion, and self deprecating humour.

The fact that I remember all the events Piers talks about gave the book real resonance to me.


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