Tag Archives: Book Review

Wobble to Death

19 Sep

A six-day “Go As You Please” footrace, otherwise known as a ‘wobble’, was a strange phenomenon in the late 19th century. Men basically waled and rested at their own pace along a carefully set out course over a designated time period.

A wobble in Islington, London, is the setting for the first novel about Sergeant Wally Cribb on the London Metropolitan Police.

Peter Lovesey wrote this delightful book for a novel writing competition, which it won.

“Wobble to Death” is a well plotted, well written, crime story with lots of suspects and a satisfying conclusion.

While Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes got me interested in crim fiction, it was Peter Lovesey’s Sgt Cribb who lead me to expand my interest further into the Victorian era.

Although the book is well over 50 years old, it is still a crisp and delightful read. If you want to read it, it is still in print and available from Book Depository.

Memoirs from Mrs. Hudson’s Kitchen

11 Sep

“Memoirs from Mrs. Hudson’s Kitchen” is written by Wendy Heyman-Marsaw. The book comprises thoughts, recipes, & memoirs from the long-running column published in the Sherlockian journal ‘Canadian Holmes’.

This collection is publishing by MX Publishing and illustrated with lovely old advertisements.

The book talks about how the column started and how the book came about.

There are loads of interesting facts, not to mention some absolutely delicious recipes, several which I intend to at least attempt to cook.

This delightful little book is so interesting and so useful that it has earned a permanent place in my research library.

Highly recommended for all those with an interest in the world of Sherlock Holmes and in life during the Victorian period.

The book is available directly from MX Publishing: Memoirs from Mrs. Hudson’s Kitchen

Dramatic Moment of Fate: The Life of Sherlock Holmes in the Theatre

5 Sep

“Dramatic Moment of Fate: The Life of Sherlock Holmes in the Theatre” is written by Alexandra Kitty and published by MX Publishing. The book is a fascinating look at Sherlock Holmes on stage, ranging from William Gillette’s play through to modern plays by the likes of David MacGregor and Bert Coules.

The book is broken into chapters including such topics as Sherlock Holmes on Broadway and theatrical adaptations of ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles”.

Of particular interest to me was the look at the various characters and who has played them on stage.

The book is well researched with extensive source notes at the end of the book.

Alexandra Kitty has written an excellent, one might almost say definitive, book on a subject that is rarely covered in any depth.

Highly recommended to anyone interested in the history of Sherlock Holmes and also theatrical history. The book is available directly from MX Publishing: https://mxpublishing.com/products/the-dramatic-moment-of-fate-the-life-of-sherlock-holmes-in-the-theatre?_pos=1&_sid=4bc2282c1&_ss=r

My thanks to Steve Emecz at MX Publishing for the review copy.

Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Beer Barons

29 Aug

“Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Beer Barons” is written by Christopher James and publishhed by MX Publishing.

The delivery of a beer barrel containing the body of a man to 221b Baker Street is the catalyst for a new adventure for Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson. This one takes them to the beer capital of Great Britain – Burton-on-Trent.

The story is fast paced and exciting with a fiendish plot that has more twists and turns than a corkscrew.

One thing I also look for in a Sherlock Holmes pastiche is the relationship between Holmes and Watson. In this book the friendship is rock solid.

There are many interestly and lively characters, including Miss Gertie Cresswell, private detective. Miss Cresswell is wonderfully well rounded and I would love to see her in a book of her own.

All in all an extremely fun read. Highly recommended.

My thanks to MX Publishing for the review copy.

You can get your own copy directly from MX Publishing: https://mxpublishing.com/products/sherlock-holmes-and-the-adventure-of-the-beer-barons?_pos=1&_sid=c4f7ba5e9&_ss=r

Sherlock Holmes and the London Particular

13 Aug

“Sherlock Holmes and the London Particular” is part of the American Literati’ series by Daviel D. Victor and published by MX Publishing. The books see Holmes and Watson work with noted American writers of the period. The writer in this book is Richard Harding Davis, whom I freely admit I had not heard of.

Be that as it may, it is still an excellent book with the plot involving a stolen diamond necklace, two corpses and a Russian connection. A plot which made for an intriguing case and a ripping read.

For those that don’t know the London Particular was a type of thick, almost poisonous, fog that frequently filled London. It creates an atmospheric start to the story.

The characters are interesting and the denouement of the case suitably exciting.

Well worth a read. THe book is available directly from MX Publishing: https://mxpublishing.com/products/sherlock-holmes-and-the-london-particular?_pos=1&_sid=28d8159f9&_ss=r

The Peerless Peer

29 Jul

In “The Peerless Peer” by Philip Jose Farmer, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are sent to Africa in WWI on a mission for Mycroft Holmes to aid against the war against Germany. On the way they meet up with the villain from “His Last Bow” – Baron Von Bork, and assorted characters from popular culture & literature, including Lord Greystoke aka Tarzan, the ‘peerless peer’ of the book’s title.

The problem with the “Peerless Peer” for me was that it was impossible to tell whether I was reading pastiche or parody. I felt Holmes and Watson were caricatures, rather than interpretations of the the characters. Both felt horribly wrong to me.

The book was originally published in 1974, and reprinted in 2011 by Titan Books as part of their “Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” series. I rather feel this is one adventure that really didn’t need to be retold. I am sure people will disagree with me, and that is fine. Someone else reading the book may love it, and I really hope they do. It is just that for me, this book did not work.

I’m afraid I was deeply disappointed with this book.

The Silver Locomotive Mystery

16 Jul

In “The Silver Locomotive Mystery” by Edward Marston, Inspector Robert Colbeck and Sgt Victor Leeming are called to Cardiff to investigate the murders of a young silversmith and the theft of a silver coffeepot in the shape of a locomotive that he was taking to hand over to a customer.

Edward Marston is a dab hand at historical crime fiction over a wide variety of eras. The Railway Detective series set in the mid 19th century is every bit as good as his other series. The research is impecable.

Marston evokes the time and place beautifully. His characters are well-rounded and interesting. Marston’s descriptions of people are both sharp and acidic at times. Of one character he says “He’s the kind of man who swallows nails and shits screws”.

The plot is exciting an gripping, with enough twists and turns to take your breath away.

Highly recommended.

Dodger

4 Jul

“Dodger” by James Benmore takes us into the adult life of Charles Dickens’s immortal character.

Jack Dawkins aka The Artful Dodger is back in London after having been transported to Australia for seven years. With a pardon signed by a dodgy, and more than a little insane, aristocrat, Dodger is a man with a mission: find the Jackapoor stone and return it to the aristocrat…otherwise Dodger is going to end up dead.

The story is a delicious romp through 19th century London. Murder, mayhem, and a reunion of sorts with Fagin’s other “boys”.

It was nice to see the inclusion of an Australian aboriginal character. Warrigal, known as Peter Cole, to the English, is a nicely balanced, very human character. So much so, that I really want to see this character get his own book. I really want to learn more about Warrigal.

The plot is fast paced and with enough twists and turns to make you stop and go Whoah!

I think Charles Dickens would be very proud to see Jack Dawkins all grown up.

Fabulous book. Highly recommended. I can’t wait to bet my hands on the other books in the series

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.

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