Tag Archives: Book Review

The Tea House Detective: The Old Man in the Corner

18 Apr

“The Tea House Detective: The Old Man in the Corner” was written by Baroness Orcy. The stories in this volume were originally published in book form in 1908. The edition I read was published by Pushkin Vertigo in 2018.

One does not associate Baroness Orczy with crime fiction. To me, like with many others, her name resonates with historical fiction, her being the writer of the class “The Scarlet Pimpernel”.

The stories are all well written and the character of the Old Man in the Corner with his compulsive tieing of knots, was both interesting and odd. The female journalist listening to his stories was little more than a device to get the old man’s tales out; he could have been talking to the wall. Except in the last story, when the character, Miss Polly Burton really stands out.

All the stories are excellent, but the stand out one for me was the very first story, “The Fenchurch Street Mystery”.

A fascinating book. Recommended.

Sherlock Cat and the Missing Mousie

7 Apr

“Sherlock Cat and the Missing Mousie”, written by Heather Edwards, illustrated by Amanda Downs, and published by MX Publishing, is not my usual choice of reading material. When I saw the cover illustration on Kickstarter I was captivated and knew that it was one book that I just had to read and review.

It turned out to be an absolutely sweet little book. Spot the cat has decided that he will be Sherlock Holmes the cat detective with his long suffering friend Fluffy as John Watson.

Join the two cats, their humans , and assorted other creatures in a joyous Sherlockian romp.

The book is well written, and while clearly for children, there is much to enjoy for the adult as well. There are so many lovely little Sherlockian in-jokes.

The illustrations by Amanda Downs are charming. My only complaint is that there wasn’t enough of them.

This is the perfect book to introduce kids to the world of the Great Detective. In fact, it would be a great book to read with your children.

Highly recommended.

Sherlock Cat and the Missing Mousie is available for purchase from MX Publishing and other online book stores.

Watson Does Not Lie

27 Mar

“Watson Does Not Lie” by Paul Thomas Miller is a fabulous chronology of the Holmes stories working with the premise that everything Watson wrote was 100% correct, as far as he perceived it.

The result is a fascinating book that provides details for every story as well as a simplified time line and a full one.

Paul’s research is incredibly in depth. Newspaper archives, historic weather reports, and the records of the Royal Albert Hall were all grist for Paul’s research mill.

There is a lively timeline of John Watson’s marriages, based on the references in the stories. The result being six wives in twenty two years…one has to wonder about John ‘Three Continents’ Watson!

I came away with two things from this book. That the word ‘continuity’ did not exist in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s personal lexicon, and that Paul Thomas Miller is one hell of a researcher.

This invaluable little book has gone straight into my research library.

Highly recommended to all fans of Sherlock Holmes.

The Adventure of the Coal-Tar Derivative

20 Mar

“The Adventure of the Coal-Tar Derivative” is written by Steven Philip Jones and published by MX Publishing. It is a collection of short stories and novellas that take place during the Great Hiatus.

The stories are all of equal caliber, but my personal favourite was the first one “Mea Gloria Fides”.

The collection may not be to everyone’s taste, as the stories include letters and journal entries from participating characters. It put me in mind of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” which has long been a favourite of mine.

An interesting edition to the world of Sherlock Holmes.

The book is available directly from MX Publishing

London’s Underworld

9 Mar

This book was originally published in 1862 as the fourth volume of Henry Mayhew’s ground-breaking sociological work “London Labour and the London Poor”. The edition I read was edited by Peter Quennell and published in 1983 by Bracken Books.

Henry Mayhew was an interesting man. Genuinely interested in the lives of the people he was surveying and deeply compassionate, something that comes across, even through the somewhat turgid mid-Victorian prose.

For me, the major highlight of the book was the interviews with prostitutes, thieves and other outcasts of Victorian society. 160 years later their individual voices ring out clearly making the book an absolutely fascinating read.

This book, picked up at Syber’s of Malvern second hand book shop, is now part of my reference library.

Highly recommended.

Sherlock Holmes: The Red Tower

23 Feb

In this fun book by Mark A. Latham, Dr John Watson is invited to a weekend party where a medium is in residence and a seance is planned. When the sister of his host dies in mysterious circumstances, Watson sends for his good friend, Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

“The Red Tower” brings together two of my favourite mystery tropes: the house party, and the locked room.

Mark A. Latham creates a fun story brimming with atmosphere. His original characters are strong and interesting. His handling of the friendship between Holmes and Watson skillful.

Be warned that the early part of the book is principally John Watson. Holmes does not make an appearance until after the mysterious death takes place.

For me the added bonus was the presence of Inspector Lestrade. I make no secret of the fact he is my favourite of the Scotland Yard men.

“Sherlock Holmes” The Red Tower” is an excellent pastiche and one that I think Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself would have enjoyed.

Highly recommended.

The Serpent’s Shadow

13 Feb

Maya Witherspoon was born and raised in India, the child of a British doctor and an Indian Brahmin mother. Magic runs in her veins. When both her parents die within a short time of each other, Maya flees to London. But an enemy is following her…

“The Serpent’s Shadow” is the first in the Elemental Masters series by Mercedes Lackey.

Mercedes Lackey can always be relied on for a ripping yarn, and this one is no exception. It’s a rich tapestry of vibrant colour set in an alternate Edwardian London where magic exists and is wielded by masters of the four elements: Air, Earth, Fire, and Water.

The Elemental Masters series weaves stories around old fairy tales and fables. “The Serpent’s Shadow” is twisted around the all tale of Snow White. Not the squeaky clean Disney version, but the much older, darker, tale that is soaked in pain and blood.

A fun book that is a delicious read from start to finish. Highly recommended.

The Improbable Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

2 Feb

“The Improbable Casebook of Sherlock Holmes” is an anthology of seven short stories written by Nick Cardillo and published by MX Publishing.

It is an excellent volume. Every story swings along nicely, with suitably exciting denouements.

Three stories really stood out for me: The Scholar of Silchester Court, A Ghost from the Past, and The Adventure of the Weeping stone. A Ghost from the Past would have to be my favourite, as we rarely get to see the fallout from Holmes’s cases.

Nick Cardillo is spot on with his characterizations. Both Holmes and Watson are canonically sound and their friendship is solid.

It is one of the best single author anthologies I have read. Highly recommended.

“The Improbable Casebook of Sherlock Holmes” is available directly from MX Publishing

Shadowwraith

20 Jan

“Shadowwraith” is the last of the Sun and Shadow books by Tracy Revels.

A ‘ghost’ leaving gifts for a distraught young woman starts off a terrifying case that rockets from Whitechapel to the famous crypts in Palermo, Sicily and sees Sherlock Holmes’s immortal soul in peril.

“Shadowwraith” is every bit as exciting and thrilling as the two previous books.

Even with the supernatural nature of the book, Holmes and Watson are very traditionally drawn and the friendship is strong. The supporting characters are well-drawn and interesting. Dr. Revels’s depiction of Mrs. Hudson is a delight.

As with the other books, historical figures abound. I can’t say whom without given too much away, but Dr. Revels’s gives life to characters long dead – in more ways than one!

I highly recommend this book.

You can buy the book (and the previous two) directly from MX Publishing

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Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon

3 Jan

Any book that has the opening words: “Father Christmas! Halt right there!” is bound to be interesting.

In “Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon”, by James Lovegrove, Eve Allerthorpe arrives to consult Holmes with a haunting tale of demons and death, leading to Holmes and Watson journeying to Yorkshire in search of the mysterious Christmas Demon – Black Thurrick.

The story is fast paced and interesting, with a cast of entertaining characters. A lively take on the house party trope.

James Lovegrove never fails to create characters that are rich with personality. His Holmes and Watson are also outstanding, with the friendship between the two men shining through strongly.

The ending has enough Christmas cheer to be delightful, without sticking to the palate like overcooked fudge.

Highly recommended.

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