Tag Archives: Victorian London

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.

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Sherlock Holmes: Legacy of Deeds

30 Aug

London 1894: People have been mysteriously poisoned at a Covent Garden art gallery; and a Russian Grand Duke is asking for Holmes to find the murderer of his manservant.

Are these two cases for Holmes… or only one? Add in an apparent suicide at a girl’s school and you have the recipe for an exciting and absorbing Sherlock Holmes mystery.

“Sherlock Holmes: Legacy of Deeds” by Nick Kyme is well plotted and well written, as well as relatively well researched.

Sherlock Holmes is nicely ascerbic, without being too ill-mannered. John Watson has a nice balance of outrage and sass, as well as being a valuable partner to Holmes, not a patsy. A well balanced Holmes/Watson team.

The Scotland Yard inspector involved in this case is Tobias Gregson. Nick Kyme pads Gregson out nicely. He managed to make my least favourite yarder quite likeable. I am hoping he writes more Holmes/Watson/Gregson offerings in the future.

Highly recommended.

The House At Baker Street

11 Apr

“The House at Baker Street” is the first novel for author Michelle Birkby.

When Sherlock Holmes turns away a potential client, Martha Hudson and Mary Watson step into the breech.

A marvellous story with action, adventure, much warmth between the characters, and real character depth.

Martha Hudson and Mary Watson miostly flit around the edges of the canon stories, the exception being Mary’s leading role in “The Sign of the Four”. This book fleshes out both women, making it obvious why Holmes remains at Baker Street, and just what Watson sees in Mary.

I do not have the room to keep all but the very best (in my opinion) books in my small Sherlock Holmes library. “The House at Baker Street” is the latest addition to that library and will be read many, many times in the future.

I cannot recommend this book too highly.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

3 Sep

I spent the weekend reading “TheStrange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter” by Theodora Goss.

Mary Jekyll’s mother has just died, leaving her poor. She discovers that her mother has been supporting a young girl, Diana Hyde.

Mary begins a quest, with the help of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, to discover what actually happened to her father, Dr Henry Jekyll, and his association with the Society of Alchemists (I’ve anglicized it. My French isn’t up to it).

Throw in a series of murders in Whitechapel, and the daughters of other society members. such as Moreau and Frankenstein, and you have a marvellous romp of a story.

The book caught my eye when Charles Prepolec was reading it, and he liked it, so I thought I’d give it a go.

I WANT MORE!

Jack the Ripper: Case Closed

31 Aug

In ‘Jack the Ripper: Case Closed’ by Gyles Brandreth, Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle set out to examine the suspects in the Ripper case and solve the crimes once and for all.

The book is narrated in the first person by Arthur Conan Doyle. This was a weird experience for me reading a book where one of my favourite authors is actually a character.

Gyles Brandreth gets right inside the skin of Oscar Wilde. His Wilde is thoroughly believable and syncs well with what we know of Wilde’s actual character.

The ending, not to give away any spoilers, is both satisfying and unsatisfying on a number of levels. I could get behind the idea of the killer, but not the motive. The politics of the situation I could accept quite easily.

A delicious Victorian romp.

Anno Dracula

8 Dec
Queen Victoria has been persuaded out of widowhood by Dracula who is now the Prince Consort and Lord Protector of England.

Someone is carving up young new-born vampire whores in Whitechapel. They call him Silver Knife. The Diogenes Club instructs Charles Beauregard to investigate. He is assisted by a French vampire elder named Genevieve who works at a mission in Whitechapel.

It becomes obvious that these are no simple killings. We, the reader, learn early who the killer is, but Charles and Genevieve do not until the end.

A word about this book. Brilliant.

Kim Newman writes an enchanting and engaging story, and cheekily name checks as many real and fictional people as he can. I had a merry old time name spotting as I went. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but if you are familiar with Victorian/Edwardian writers and their creations you will love this book so much.

I can’t wait to get my hands on the other three Anno Dracula novels.

I, Ripper

29 Aug

“I, Ripper” by Stephen Hunter was recommended to me by one of my GoodReads friends, Hannah.  Hannah has excellent taste.

This is probably not a book I would have picked up if left to my own devices, but on her recommendation I got a copy from the library and I’m glad I did.

“I, Ripper” is told from both the point of view of Jack the Ripper from his personal diaries, and from the notes of a reporter from the Star newspaper, Jeb, interspersed with letters written by one of the Whitechapel unfortunates.

Even though everyone knows about the killings, if not the details, I would still call this book a thriller.  Because, believe me, even though you know the crimes, you will get caught in the twists and turns as Jeb tries to identify the man killing the whores of Whitechapel.

The last few chapters are startling, amazing, shocking, and horrifying by turns.  I worked out who the Ripper was, but the real identity of Jeb, left me stunned.

Brilliant book.  A must for all ripperologists, and all fans of Victorian crime fiction.

Some Danger Involved

28 Oct

“Some Danger Involved” is the first book in the Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn series written by Will Thomas.

I absolutely loved this book.  Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewelyn are possibly the finest crime fighting duo since Sherlock Holmes and John Watson… and that’s saying a lot coming from me.  I’m sure by now most people have realized that I am a dedicated Sherlockian of long standing.

The series is set in Victorian London with Cyrus having his office near Whitehall.

“Some Danger Involved” is the first book in the series, covering Thomas’ being hired as Cyrus’ assistant and an introduction to the cast of supporting characters, including Cyrus man servant, Jacob Maccabee aka Mac.

The plot of the book involves that murder of a young Jewish man whose body is left crucified in Petticoat Lane.  The Jewish community fears the rise of an Anti-Semitic group and hires Cyrus Barker to get to the bottom of the matter.

The book is heaped high with interesting and well researched information about Victorian London.

The plot twists and turns, and the denouement comes as a total shock!

A brilliant book which I cannot recommend highly enough.  I have already read another book in the series, so I will go so far as to say that this is a series that has much to recommend it.

The Albino’s Treasure

20 Sep

“The Albino’s Treasure” by Stuart Douglas is printed by Titan Books under their “Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” imprint.

A case of malicious damage at the newly opened National Portrait Gallery, which Holmes is persuaded to look into by Lestrade, leads to an interesting and dangerous case for Holmes and Watson, when they cross swords with the evil Lord of Strange Deaths, the ruler of Limehouse, and the enigmatic albino of the title.

The plot is detailed and absorbing.  There is nothing facile about this book.

Holmes and Watson are comfortably in character.  There is no jarring as there sometimes is with pastiches.  The strength of the friendship is shown quite clearly, especially in an horrific scene towards the end of the book.  This is the traditional Holmes and Watson, each with their clearly defined roles within the narrative, but it doesn’t make anything about the book predictable or dull.

There is a nice little BBC Sherlock gag, that fits in smoothly, and won’t ruffle the feathers of Sherlockians, but will make “Sherlock” fans chuckle gently.

It is hard to believe that “The Albino’s Treasure” is a first novel, as I have NEVER come across a first novel that was such a readable delight.

Highly recommended for all Sherlock Holmes fans.

Sherlock in Love

24 May

“Sherlock in Love” by Sena Jeter Naslund is supposed to be the story of Holmes’ one great love and how he obtained his Stradivarius violin.

Nice idea, reasonable plot, but it would have helped if the author had actually read ACD’s original stories. In the story “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box”, Arthur Conan Doyle himself stated that Holmes brought his stradivarius from a pawnbroker in the Edgeware Road.  That failure to keep to canon gave the book a major strike against it before I even began to read it.

I also found it hard to believe the great man of mind and intellect could be so swayed by emotion.

However, the plot fairly bounced along and was an enjoyable read in its own right.

The second stroke against it was, for me, the lack of chemistry between Holmes and Watson.  The characters felt more like polite friends than the tight bond of friendship seen in the books.

A non Sherlockian will no doubt enjoy it, but there are too many small niggles for a devotee to be entirely happy with the book.

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