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The Curious Cases of Sherlock Holmes Volume One

20 Jun

Stephen Herczeg is a prolific author of Sherlock Holmes short stories. “The Curious Cases of Sherlock Holmes Volume One” brings together eight of his excellent stories that have been previously published in anthologies by both MX Publishing and Belanger Books.

Embellished with interesting forwards by editors David Marcum and Derrick Belanger, this stories in the volume are all entertaining and interesting reads.

I had favourites. Of course I did. ‘The Curious Case of the Sleeper’ was charming, while ‘The Adventure of the Modern Guy Fawkes’ was pure Conan-Doyle. My absolute favourite, however, was ‘The Adventure of the Sugar Merchant’: the ending of which had the hair on the back of my neck standing on end.

I sat down last night and read every story, which tells you all you need to know about the readability of the book. Rare is the book that I pick up and do not put down until the last word has been read.

Highly recommended.

“The Curious Cases of Sherlock Holmes Volume One” is published by MX Publishing and available directly from them: https://mxpublishing.com/products/the-curious-cases-of-sherlock-holmes-volume-one?_pos=3&_sid=44f3a8efa&_ss=r

The Detective Wore Silk Drawers

14 Jun

The discovery of a headless corpse washed up on the banks of the Thames near Blackfriars, drags Cribb from his pint at the pub and into a case involving the brutal and illegal world of bare-knuckle prize fighting, in this, the second of the Sergeant Cribb books by Peter Lovesey.

With his trusty assistant Thackeray and a well-bred young copper, Cribb dives into a case that, if he’s not careful will have them all knocked out for the count.

“The Detective Wore Silk Drawers” is fast paced and exciting. The characters are well-rounded and believable.

As well as a fine detective story, you get a gritty look at the less than glamorous world of boxing at a time when the hard and dirty fighting with bare fists was banned, and boxing with “mittens” and the Queensbury Rules had become the norm.

An interesting and absorbing read, as well as being a first-class crime thriller. Highly recommended.

Shadowblood

2 Jun

“Shadowblood” written by Tracy Revels ad published by MX Publishing, is the sequel to “Shadowfall” in which we learned that Holmes is half fae, Watson loses his soul, and then his memories.

In the opening to “Shadowblood” we learn that the events of “Shadowfall” have made Watson extremely ill. The story starts with his convalesence in the country with an old army buddy. But things don’t stay sane for long. The arrival of a nasty neighbour demanding that Holmes be sent for sets of a trail of events that lead Holmes and Watson across Europe and to America in search of a horrific murderer, and also a legend.

Tracy Revels has given as a book just as exciting as her first one. I quite literally read this one in one sitting. Ms Revels writes with warmth and humour, but there is no denying the chills her story generates as well.

As well as her superb Holmes and Watson, Ms Revels sprinkles the book with interesting characters, many of them historical.

If you like your Sherlock Holmes spiced with the supernatural and seasoned with chills, you will love this book.

Highly recommended.

“Shadowblood” is available directly from MX Publishing: https://mxpublishing.com/products/shadowblood-a-novel-of-sherlock-holmes?_pos=5&_sid=8362b7cd4&_ss=r

Houdini and Conan Doyle

25 May

On the surface you really cannot imagine Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle having much in common.

In “Houdini and Conan Doyle” Christopher Sandford digs deep to show just how alike the two men actually were. Right down to their stubborn refusal to see things from anyone else’s point of view. Which ultimately lead to them going from friends to rivals, one would almost be prepared to say, enemies, over Conan Doyle’s belief in spiritualism and Houdini’s disbelief in same.

The book tracks the ups and downs of both men’s lives, and those of their families. Speaking of which, I have come away for the book wanting to know more about Houdini’s wife, Bess. A truly amazing woman on a lot of levels.

This book holds great appeal to anyone interested in the history of spiritualism and stage magic, as well as the lives of two extraordinary men.

Highly recommended.

The Holmes Sutra

15 May

The Macquarie dictionary defines the word “sutra” as a body of rules and teachings. “The Holmes Sutra” by Jayantika Ganguly lives up to that definition.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part is the Mantras (described by Macquarie as a word, phrase or verse repeated as an aid to meditation) and the the second part is the Holmes Mania Quotient Test.

The Mantras are interesting, being derived, not just from the canon, but from various literary and media adaptations and portrayals of the characters. My favourite is #16: Learn from the Master, S.O.D. everything, ie See, Observe and Deduce.

The Holmes Mania Quotient test is a bit of fun for the real Holmes fanatic.

The book also has a comprehensive bibilography which is a n excellent resource for those wanting to read more Holmes.

Highly recommended to all Sherlock Holmes fans.

The book is published by MX Publishing and available directly from them: https://mxpublishing.com/products/the-holmes-sutra?_pos=1&_sid=d749b75ae&_ss=r

Please check out my books when you visit the MX Publishing website.

The Holmes-Dracula File

8 May

Criminals are threatening to set loose thousands of plague carrying rats and a there is a killer who leaves a trail of bloodless corpses in his wake. Who is the killer and what, if any, is the connection?

In “The Holmes-Dracula File” by Fred Saberhagen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle meets Bram Stoker in a truly delightful mash-up.

Holmes and Watson are kept as much in traditional character as possible, given the subject matter.

The story is fast paced and exciting, keeping the reader breathless from page to page. A truly ripping yarn and one in which Holmes and Dracula have much more in common than you would think.

The book was first published in 1978 so physical copies may be hard to obtain. Though the book is still available on Kindle format.

Recommended.

Arsene Lupin, Gentleman Thief

2 May

The recent Netflix Arsene Lupin inspired series prompted a reissue by Orion of the book “Arsene Lupin, Gentleman Thieft” by Maurice LeBlanc with a media tie-in cover. Seeing at a local bookshop I thought I would give it a go.

The stories are interesting, but the characters really didn’t grab me. This is not the fault of Maurice Leblanc, I just could not raise any enthusiasm for the stories. The stories are well written, but just didn’t engage me. I had the same problem with Raffles, so I suspect that the villanous side of the fence isn’t for me.

The colour photographs from the television series that sit somewhat incongruously in the middle of the book don’t help by adding a jarring and somewhat confusing note.

One thing of interest is the fact that Sherlock Holmes who Leblanc had to rename Herlock Sholmes to advoid the wrath of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, has had his name restored to Sherlock Holmes in this edition.

I am sure many will love the book, but, alas, it’s not for me.

Book Reviews – The Other Side of the Fence

27 Apr

I started this blog quite a few years ago, sharing mostly musings on odd subjects and reviews of theatre, television, movies, and, of course, books.

At the time I never thought that I would end up being a published author. To be honest, I still have to pinch myself sometimes because I think I’m asleep dreaming all this.

Now that I am an author I am realizing just how valuable book reviews are to the author. Yes, a review is just one person’s opinion, but they can help us make our books better.

Book reviews help me get a feel for what my readers want. To get the balance between dialogue and action right. To set the scene properly. To make sure that my stories make the person feel like they are in Victorian England. One of the best pieces of feedback I received was being told that the reader felt like they were actually there, racing around London with Holmes and Watson.

Another lovely person told me that they ship my version of Lestrade with one of my original characters. Dorothy. I went around for days with a huge grin on my face. To me this means that my characters felt real enough for someone to become emotionally invested in them. As a writer I want people to become emotionally invested in my characters. Hell, I’m emotionally invested in them. I have to be, or else they fall flat and become nothing more than the written equivalent of paper dolls.

So if you read a book and enjoy it, why not review it? It doesn’t have to be much. A rating on GoodReads or Amazon, even a few words in a Twitter post with a link to the book. It all helps.

The Angel of Darkness

20 Apr

“The Angel of Darkness” is the sequel to “The Alienist”, but instead of the narrator being John Moore, it is young Stevie, the youth that Dr Laszlo Kreizler took from the streets.

As per “The Alienist” there are dreadful crimes and death and mayhem in New York City in 1897. In this case a headless corpse in the Hudson and the kidnapping of the child of a Spanish diplomat. As the USA is on the brink of war with Spain this adds a sense of desperate urgency to the proceedings.

The main characters from the first book are present. Sara Howard is given the best line of the lot towards the end of the book. Speaking of which: Be warned that at over 800 pages this book is not for the fainthearted.

A well researched and entertaining book.

MX Publishing – Forthcoming Books

13 Apr

My third book, “Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the London Dock Deaths” was published in February this year by MX Publishing. Of course, I am not alone, MX Publishing releases a number of exciting books each year.

MX Publishing has their list of new books for 2021 (and also their 2020 releases) on their website. They also include books by their subsidiary imprint, Orange Pip Books.

On scanning the list I have found many books I am truly looking forward to reading.

“Spiral Mind” (Orange Pip Books) – Janina Arndt

“Sherlock Holmes and the Secret of the Three Monks” – Johanna Reike

“Tales of Scotland Yard: Lestrade” (Orange Pip Books) – Bianca Jenkins

Those are only a few. I attach a link to the list for your perusal.

One of the things I love about MX Publishing is their willingness to publish female authors and to publish Sherlock Holmes stories that are a bit too ‘out there’ for Holmesian traditionalists. There are plenty of traditional Holmes stories too, but it is MX Publishing’s willingness to step out of the comfort zone that makes them so good.

Check out the list and maybe tryout a new author or two.

https://mxpublishing.com/pages/2020-new-books

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