The Keys of Death

19 Jan

“The Keys of Death” is the third Sherlock Holmes novel from author Gretchen Altabef and published by MX Publishing.

A fun look at Holmes first case when he and Watson move into 221B Baker Street. The case? It’s the murder of Mrs. Hudson’s husband!

The story is mostly told in the form of the journal entries of Mrs. Hudson and Doctor Watson, supplemented with columns by Langdale Pike, and other bits and pieces.

I know a number of Sherlockians will not care for the style, but I found it an enjoyable change. Mrs. Hudson’s own voice rings out clearly. There is no mistaking Mrs. Hudson for John Watson or vice versa, as is often the case with multiple first person points of view.

All of the characters are well-rounded and interesting. Ms. Altabef’s Mrs. Hudson is a particular delight.

Richly detailed and well researched, “The Keys of Death” is a delight addition to the word of Sherlock Holmes pastiche.

Highly recommended.

You can purchase a copy directly from MX Publishing. And while you are there, please considering checking out my books for sale here.

MX PUBLISHING BLACK FRIDAY SALE

24 Nov

My publisher, MX Publishing, is having a Black Friday Sale. You can get all of my books for 30% off.

The sale goes until the end of November.

Use the code ‘blackfriday’ at the check out. The minimum purchase is 4 items.

You can find my books here.

Sherlock Holmes: The Labyrinth of Death

23 Nov

Written by James Lovegrove, “Sherlock Holmes: The Labyrinth of Death” is set in 1895 and tells the tale of two missing women and a quasi-religious sect obsessed with Ancient Greek myths and rituals.

There is just so much to like about this book. My first and major thought when reading any Sherlock Holmes pastiche is: “What is the relationship between Holmes and Watson like?” In this book, as in Mr. Lovegrove’s other books, the friendship is strong and well-balanced.

The story is absorbing, interesting, and, at times, ventures into Indiana Jones territory. In fact I could easily see this book being made into a Robert Downey Jr/Jude Law ‘Sherlock Holmes’ movie.

Two other things stood out to me. The use of the Dorset dialect is superb, giving a real sense of place to the story. The second one is the character of Hannah Woolfson. In Hannah, Mr. Lovegrove has created a really strong female character who plays a real role in the story. This is one woman who is not simply there as window dressing.

All in all, this book is an excellent read. I highly recommend it.

Gaslight Ghouls: Uneasy Tales of Sherlock Holmes, Monsters & Madmen

1 Nov

“Gaslight Ghouls: Uneasy tales of Sherlock Holmes, Monsters and Madmen” is a fabulous addition to the Gaslight series of Sherlock Holmes anthologies. The general theme for this one was “Folk Horror”. For those unfamiliar with the genre, think the 1973 movie “The Wicker Man”.

The series is edited by J. R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec, and the other volumes were published by EDGE. This excellent book has been published by Belanger Books who are renowned for Sherlock Holmes with a bit of a twist.

Anthologies are usually a bit hit and miss. There is always one story you love and others that you cannot stand. Not in this anthology, at least, not for me. I enjoyed every single story. They were all appropriately chilling and unsettling.

For me the outstanding stories were:

The Peculiar Case of Sweetly’s Luck by Alison Littlewood;
The Case of the Stranded Harlequin by Mark A. Latham;
The First Footers by Stephen Volk; and
Song from Dark Annie’s Bower by Angela Slatter.

Dark and delicious, this book proved to be a perfect Halloween read. The book is going into my permanent collection. Highly recommended.

Fall from Grace

2 Oct

“Fall from Grace” is the second Inspector McLevy novel written by David Ashton. The novel centres around the Tay Bridge disaster of 1879. It’s a delightful mix of burglary and murder.

I love David Ashton’s characters. James McLevy is a braw Scotsman: delightfully argumentative. He has excellent foils in Constable Mulholland, Lieutenant Roach, and Jean Brash, the madam of the brothel “The Just Land”. All the characters are well-rounded and realistic.

Ashton’s research is impeccable. The facts of the Tay Bridge disaster balance out nicely against the story.

I have two quibbles. The first one is that the story was non-linear. I prefer to read stories that progress along a time line. I found the jumping backwards and forwards confusing. But that is just me and the way my brain works. My personal preference, really.

The other thing was of more concern. A lot of the book was typeset using italics. I have vision problems and the italics made the book very hard to read, especially in artificial light.

However I still recommend the book to anyone who enjoys Victorian period crime or Scottish crime fiction.

Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of Neb-Heka-Ra – Kickstarter

4 Sep

Kickstarter campaigns are a great way to get a new book out there and visible.

I have just launched (with a lot of help from MX Publishing’s Steve Emecz), the Kickstarter for Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of Neb-Heka-Ra. The blurb for the book is as follows:

“I am Neb-Heka-Ra… I declaim now that my curse shall fall upon he who disturbs my rest. I call upon the Gods to witness and avenge such impiety…”

A trio of bizarre deaths, starting with that of a renowned surgeon, sends Sherlock Holmes, Dr. John Watson, and Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard deep into a maelstrom of murder and mayhem. Does a mysterious piece of paper that leads them to the British Museum hold the key to these killings? And what are they truly dealing with? As the death toll climbs, Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade race to solve the dreadful mystery of the Curse of Neb-Heka-Ra.

There are a lot of rewards, including being a character in a future book. My last Kickstarter, for “The Adventure of the Bloody Duck and other tales of Sherlock Holmes” also had this reward which someone purchased. I won’t tell you the character’s name, as it was brought as a surprise gift for someone else. But if you ever fancied appearing in a Sherlock Holmes story, you can have that chance again, as this reward is once again on offer. As I am now in the research and planning stages for my fifth novel, you have the chance to get in on the ground floor, so to speak.

You can check out the rewards available on the Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of Neb-Heka-Ra here

All my previous books are available directly from MX Publishing.

The Treasure of the Poison King

30 Aug

“The Treasure of the Poison King” is written by Paul D. Gilbert and published by MX Publishing.

Mithradates VI, the King of Pontus, in the first century BCE is known to history as “The Poison King” due to his habit of dosing himself with poisons to prevent anyone killing him in that way. He was also fabulously wealthy. After his defeat by the Roman legions led by Lucullus, his treasure was taken back to Rome, but one of the ships sank, never to be seen again…until a small group of Greek sponge divers found a mysterious ship wreck. Now, rumour has it that the treasure is coming to London. But what is no rumour is the death that it leaves in its wake.

Sherlock Holmes is on the case, and he must find the treasure before someone close to him becomes a victim.

Paul D. Gilbert never fails to deliver exciting stories. “The Treasure of the Poison King” is fast paced and exciting. It balances action, both physical and cerebral, with a good dose of history. All of it woven together to create a story that is sure to delight any Sherlock Holmes fan.

Highly recommended.

You can purchased the book directly from MX Publishing

The Murder of Christina Collins

14 Aug

This little booklet (60 pages) tells the story of the murder of Christina Collins in 1839. The poor lady was murdered by boatmen on the Trent and Mersey Canal. Not an unusual story in and of itself, but this crime was the inspiration for Colin Dexter’s award winning Inspector Morse novel “The Wench is Dead”.

This edition of the booklet was published by The Irregular Special Press in 2011 and includes an introduction by Colin Dexter.

John Godwin writes about the crime in rich detail.

The booklet’s 60 pages are densely packed with information, much of it compiled by gazetteer Antony J. Richards.

An interesting little read, though I found the use of CAPITALS FOR EMPHASIS more than a tad annoying.

Worth a look.

Murder on the Brighton Express

8 Aug

“Murder on the Brighton Express” is a novel in the Railway Detective series by Edward Marston.

Detective Inspector Robert Colbert aka The Railway Detective investigates the derailment of the London to Brighton Express in October 1854. Is it simply driver error, or something more sinister?

The resulting story is a deliciously tangled web of death and destruction.

Edward Marston is a renowned author of historical mysteries, of which there are probably more of the Railway Detective than any other. Which is good, because this series has rapidly become one of my favourites.

The characters are well rounded and feel very real.

“Murder on the Brighton Express” is both well written and well researched. The result is a read that simply rockets along. much like the Brighton Express.

Highly recommended for fans of railway stories, Victorian stories, and detective stories.

London Dock Deaths Goes Italian

24 Jul

I am delighted to announce that my book “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the London Dock Deaths” has been picked up by Italian publisher Mondadori for their Italian language Sherlock Holmes series.

This is the second of my books to be selected, and I am honoured that they feel my books are suitable for translation.

The book is due out next month, or so I am told. Thanks are due to Luigi Pachi at Mondardori and Steve Emecz at MX Publishing.

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