Tag Archives: Victorian England

The Casebook of Inspector Armstrong Volume One

26 Sep

“The Casebook of Inspector Armstrong Volume One” is written by Martin Daley and published by MX Publishing.

Inspector Cornelius Armstrong is a police inspector in the Northern English city of Carlisle in the Edwardian period.

The book contains two stories:
“The Italian Murder” in which Armstrong investigates the murder of a young Italian immigrant, and
“King Edward’s Ghost” in which ghost stories told at Christmas lead Armstrong into a case of deceit and betrayal going back to the reign of Kind Edward I.

Both stories are excellent reads. They are well-plotted and fast-paced, and salted with interesting historical details. “King Edward’s Ghost” had a slight supernatural frisson that just adds to the story’s depth and delight.

I am looking forward to reading Martin Daley’s other Inspector Armstrong stories.

Highly recommended.

“The Casebook of Inspector Armstrong Volume One” is available directly from MX Publishing

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.

Sherlock Holmes and the Ley Line Murders

13 Dec

In “Sherlock Holmes and the Ley Line Murders” by Allan Mitchell, body parts are discovered distributed along the ancient ley lines of Wiltshire. Holmes and Watson journey to Salisbury to assist Inspector Fleming with the case. They are soon joined by Inspector Lestrade, and the game is well and truly afoot.

The level of historical detail in this book is excellent. Allan Mitchell supplies a lot of facts about the ancient monuments of Wiltshire and the resurgence of Druidism in the 18th and 19th centuries, without straying into lecture territory.

The plot is detailed and delightful. An old-fashioned ripping yarn, in fact. Holmes and Watson work well together, and Mitchell’s Lestrade is a complete delight.

The only qualm I have is that the dialogue is in italics, which did make reading a little difficult.

All in all, “Sherlock Holmes and the Ley Line Murders” is a very good read. Recommended.

Thank you to Steve at MX Publishing for the review copy.

You can buy “Sherlock Holmes and Ley Line Murders” directly from MX Publishing: https://mxpublishing.com/products/sherlock-holmes-and-the-ley-line-murders?_pos=4&_sid=693d1ea22&_ss=r

And check out my MX Publishing profile while you are there: https://mxpublishing.com/collections/sherlockian-author-profile-margaret-walsh

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.

A Study in Lavender

25 Feb

“A Study in Lavender: Queering Sherlock Holmes”, edited by Joseph R. G. DeMarco, is one of the best volumes of Sherlock Holmes short stories I have read in a long time.

The stories all have an interesting take on the world of Sherlock Holmes.  Every story has a gay component to it.  Sometimes it is Holmes who is gay, sometimes it is the client, or the victim, and in one story, Lestrade.

I found the stories all to be interesting and insightful into life for men who were criminals merely for the fact they existed, whether or not they acted upon their sexual orientation.

It is rare for me to find an anthology where I loved all the stories.  Usually there is a mix of good, bad, and mediocre.  “A Study in Lavender”, however, contained stories that were pretty much all good.  The ending of the final story in the book tended towards being a little on the mediocre side, but not enough to spoil my enjoyment of the book.

The truly outstanding story, however, is “The Well-Educated Young Man” by William P. Copeland.  This story spelled out how truly dangerous and horrific life was for gay men in the Victorian era.  The story is so well written and readable that it was whilst reading it that I knew this volume would be added to my Sherlock Holmes collection, not passed on, as I do so many others.

There are no actual sex scenes, so don’t be afraid to reach out for the book.  You may learn something as well as be entertained by some brilliantly written stories.

Highly recommended.

The Hanged Man

27 Sep

“The Hanged Man” is a fantastic new novel by P. N. Elrod, the start of a new series: “Her Majesty’s Psychic Service”.

Alexandrina Victoria Pendlebury, named for her godmother, Queen Victoria, works for Her Majesty’s Psychic Service.  Mostly Alex works with Scotland Yard as a Forensic Reader, but when a close family member is murdered, Alex finds herself confronting terror and treason at every turn.

Set in a Victorian England where Victoria married an English peer, not a German prince, and where women got both the vote and equal rights in 1859, “The Hanged Man” is best described as historical urban fantasy with steampunk overtones.

The book is a joy to read from start to finish.  The characters are well rounded and delightful.  I am hoping future books will have more of Alex’s cousin James, and his doctor friend Hamish, whose first name actually appears to be John…  We didn’t learn his surname, but I’m pretty much betting it happens to be Watson.

A well plotted and fun read.

Highly recommended.

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