Tag Archives: Book Review

Jeremy Brett: Playing a Part

9 Aug

To many people the name ‘Jeremy Brett’ is synonymous with Sherlock Holmes.  His performance as the Great Detective in the Granada production made him a household name around the world.  But there was much more to Jeremy than Sherlock Holmes, and Maureen Whittaker in her monumental undertaking “Jeremy Brett: Playing a Part” demonstrates that at great length.

From Jeremy’s childhood in Warwickshire, to his years on the stage, his sojourn in Hollywood, to Sherlock Holmes, and to his final cameo role in “Moll Flanders”, Maureen gives us a wonderful in depth look at the life and career of this fabulously talented actor.

The book is large and packed with many photos that have not been seen before.  A beautiful foreword by Jeremy’s first Watson, David Burke, just adds to the delight.

Published by MX Publishing, Maureen Whittaker’s magnum opus is a testament to both the talent of Jeremy Brett and the love that so many people still have for him.

One thing that I really loved about this book was Maureen’s refusal to include gossip.  Everything in this book came from a substantiated source, resulting in a book that is both honest and respectful.

Well written and impeccably researched, “Jeremy Brett: Playing a Part” deserves a spot in the collection of every Holmesian.

I would like to thank Steve Emecz at MX Publishing for giving me a copy to review.

Link to Book: https://mxpublishing.com/products/jeremy-brett-playing-a-part-colour-paperback-edition?_pos=3&_sid=24525ff33&_ss=r

Sherlock Holmes and the House of Pain

16 Jul

One of the greatest gifts Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gave to pastiche writers was a list of unrecorded cases, such as Merridew of the Abominable Memory, and the Case of the Politician, the Lighthouse and the Trained Cormorant. All ideas that pastiche writers have latched on to and given their take on Doyle’s carelessly chucked out gems.

In “Sherlock Holmes and the House of Pain”, by Stephen Seitz, the case in question is arguably the most famous: The Giant Rat of Sumatra.

A female missionary goes missing in London’s notorious East End, where rats of unusual size have been spotted. When Watson persuades Holmes to take on the case, the scene is set for an interesting story indeed.

Stephen Seitz’s use of H. G. Wells’ Dr. Moreau, as well as Arthur Conan Doyle’s other well known character, Professor Challenger, creates a nightmarish story of science gone mad.

The relationship between Holmes and Watson is a little uneven, but works well on the whole. I felt too much of the story revolved around Challenger, but that is a personal preference, seeing as I have never taken to the character of Professor Challenger.  Other readers will no doubt feel differently.

A fast paced and, above all, interesting take on the “story for which the world is not yet prepared”.  If you would like to read it, “Sherlock Holmes and the House of Pain” is available directly from the publisher, MX Publishing: https://mxpublishing.com/products/sherlock-holmes-and-the-house-of-pain?_pos=1&_sid=490849197&_ss=r

Dead Ringers: Sherlock Holmes Stories

25 Jun

50609507._SY475_“Dead Ringers” (published by MX Publishing) is a volume of short stories from the pen of noted Sherlockian Robert Perret and is quite a treat.

The stories have all been published in a wide variety of publications and it is nice to have them all collected together in one volume.

Robert Perret’s style is tight and firm and the stories fairly bounce along. Perret’s Holmes rarely jars, and the relationship between Holmes and Watson is solid gold.

Writers sometimes concentrate so hard on Holmes and Watson that other canonical characters suffer. Not in these stories: Lestrade, Gregson, Mrs. Hudson, and others are all as well rounded, and the original characters solid and believable.

With any anthology there will be stories of greater and lesser appeal to each reader. For me, the absolute stand out stories were:

The Mystery of the Change of Art
The Adventure of the Pharaoh’s Tablet
The Adventure of the Twofold Purpose.

The latter story was my favourite; its gothic overtones making for quite a chilling tale.

An excellent volume of stories to while away a cold winter’s evening. Highly recommended.

Link to Book: https://mxpublishing.com/products/dead-ringers-sherlock-holmes-stories?_pos=2&_sid=3471def3a&_ss=r

Ghost Story

31 May

“Ghost Story” by G. V. Pearce is the latest book from Improbable Press. I was given a copy of the book by the editor to read and review.

“Ghost Story” is a Sherlock Holmes/John Watson story with a twist. It is set in the modern day and the pair are married. If that sort of thing isn’t your bag, then don’t bother reading on.

“Ghost Story” is a delightful tale of deduction, deceit, and death.

The characters are well-rounded and fleshed out. Pearce’s characterizations of Holmes and Watson are excellent. The author supplies some lovely back story. I particularly loved the reason that Holmes, though an excellent violinist, is banned from playing in orchestras.

There are several scenes where the creepy-factor is through the roof. The first one in a cave when John was a boy; the other in an abandoned house. Pearce’s ability to manipulate atmosphere put me very much in mind of M. R. James.

The only thing to I didn’t care for was the way the story flipped about time-wise, going back and forth from the present day to the past. This isn’t a criticism as such, merely that I prefer stories to be linear. But that is on me, not the author.

“Ghost Story” is an excellent read and I am hoping for more stories from G. V. Pearce in the future.

If you want to read this delightful book for yourself it is available via the publisher:

Ghost Story

A Baskerville Curse

10 Oct

The combination of Sherlock Holmes and Lego isn’t one that naturally occurs to most people.  It is, however, a truly delightful one.  “A Baskerville Curse: Another Sherlock Holmes Alphabet” by P. James Macaluso Jr., tells the story of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” in a simple A-Z format using Lego.  The result is a charming and whimsical book that should delight Sherlock Holmes fans and children alike.

The book is soon to be published by MX Publishing, and this Sherlock Holmes fan plans to add a copy to her collection as soon as it becomes available.

If you would like to make this book a reality, please consider supporting the kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mxpublishing/a-baskerville-curse-sherlock-holmes-re-imagined?fbclid=IwAR22WcWjxvKBVRP1pkwDmKBwDFoiybRX2Ip_8hwKajcdQ_7_qaYfvmDMezs

Below is an illustration from the book: W is for Witness.  Holmes and Watson talk to Mrs. Laura Lyons.W is for Witness

The October Man

18 Jun

In this lovely novella, Ben Aaronovitch takes us away from the familiar streets of London.

Tobias Winter is a police officer and apprentice wizard with the German equivalent of the Folly. He is called to Trier when a body is found covered in fungus. Teamed with local police officer Vanessa Sommer the frantically search for the source of the magical infraction while dealing with a fractious river goddess and trying to stem the rising body count.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Ben taking the series away from London. I was delighted to discover I like Tobias Winter almost as much as I like Peter Grant.

Thought separate from the main stream of the RoL series, “The October Man” ties in neatly with references to the Folly, Peter Grant, and some interesting information about Thomas Nightingale’s past.

I thoroughly enjoyable read and a truly delightful addition to the RoL world. What I really want now is for Tobias to come to London. Tobias and Peter together would be both fun and quite possibly a national disaster.

Highly recommended.

The Bartered Brides

4 Feb

In “The Bartered Brides”, the thirteenth Elemental Masters novel by Mercedes Lackey, Sherlock Holmes is apparently dead, and Lestrade needs the help of Watson, along with Nan and Sarah to solve the crime of who is beheading young women dressed as brides, and throwing the headless corpses in the Thames.

Mercedes Lackey has turned out a gorgeous tale of magic and murder.

The joy of the Elemental Masters books with Sherlock Holmes in them is that Holmes isn’t a magician, and has difficulty with the concept, though, being the logical man that he is, when he is given evidence, he takes it on board.

Towards the end of the novel there is a delightful tip of the hat to Arthur Conan Doyle’s abysmal continuity, that made me chuckle.

This is the third Elemental Masters book with the cast of Nan, Sarah, John & Mary Watson, and Sherlock Holmes. In each book the characters grow and develop just that little bit more.

“The Bartered Brides” is a delicious addition to my permanent Sherlock Holmes collection.

Highly recommended.

I noted on Good Reads that a fourth book is due out towards the end of this year.  I will look forward to that with great anticipation.

Gaslight Gothic: Strange Tales of Sherlock Holmes

29 Jan

This book, the fourth anthology volume of Gaslight Sherlock Holmes stories, is simply delicious.

The standard of the stories is very high. Usually in every anthology you get at least one story that falls flat. It’s a tribute to the joint editing skills of J. R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec  that every story is a winner.

“Gaslight Gothic” combines the fog shrouded mysteries of Sherlock Holmes with the sort of plots that the likes of M. R. James and William Hope Hodgson excelled at.

As I said, every story is a winner, but three really stood out for me:

The Cuckoo’s Hour, by Mark A. Latham
The Strange Case of Dr Sacker and Mr Hope, by James Lovegrove
The Strange Adventure of Mary Holder, by Nancy Holder.

All three stories were creepy to an extremely high level.

“Gaslight Gothic: Strange Tales of Sherlock Holmes” now has a place in my permanent Sherlock Holmes collection, alongside my editions of the canon and one or two others.

Highly recommended.

The Ravenmaster

24 Jan

Those of you on Facebook and Twitter who follow Christopher Skaife aka the Ravenmaster, know just what a highly intelligent and quirky individual he is.

“The Ravenmaster: Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London” showcases both attributes, along with his obvious love for the ravens he is now priviledged to look after.

What comes across is just how strong the personalities are of the various ravens. The famous Merlina being the most obvious.

Chris writes with wit and warmth which makes for a charming combination. He is also capable of much pathos, as I sat trying to read about Thor’s death through the tears in my eyes.

Highly recommended. Especially if you love a good memoir or a good natural history book. This combines both for a truly delightful reading experience.

Holy Ghost

10 Dec

“Holy Ghost” is the latest novel by John Sandford.

In a small town in Minnesota, the Virgin Mary has taken to appearing in a small church. Is it a hoax? That’s really none of Virgil Flowers’ business, but the maniac who has taken to shooting people outside the church is!

The 11th Virgil Flowers novel is every bit as delightful as the previous ones. Virgil has grown a bit, settling in to the idea of being a father.

The book just zooms an bounces along. As usual the supporting characters are all well rounded and interesting. I am hoping for a couple of them to come back in future books.

My cup of happiness overflowed when Jenkins and Shrake appeared. The BCA’s bully boys are possibly my favourites of John Sandford’s supporting characters.

“Holy Ghost” is an excellent addition to the Virgil Flowers series, which has now overtaken the Lucas Davenport books as my preferred John Sandford reads.

Highly recommended.

%d bloggers like this: