Review of Irregular Lives

02 Jan

Review of Irregular Lives –  The Real Thing

Kim Krisco’s Irregular Lives is really two books in one. The first half is reminiscent of Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man, in that Sherlock Holmes’s reminiscences in post-War 1919 London frame tales about the Baker Street Irregulars, that band of youths that he employed when from before he moved to Baker Street in 1881, until long past his retirement in 1903.

Holmes’s opportunity to have these memories occurs when he is mysteriously invited to an exhibition of photographs, taken years before, of various unfortunates from London’s East End. As he makes his way around the room, he begins to recognize images of the Irregulars, and each photo that he encounters leads to a memory of a past case. Each of these are well told, having different tones depending upon which Irregular is being recalled.

When Holmes and Watson learn the identity of the mysterious photographer, the events that make up the second half of the book tumble upon us, leading to a very satisfying conclusion.

This book purports to tell how Holmes met and recruited the Irregulars. There are a few chronological issues from a Sherlockian standpoint, but the writing is excellent. This book isn’t told in first-person, like many Holmes adventures. The third-person narrative serves it well, showing what Holmes is thinking, and the actions and viewpoints of numerous characters.

There have been a great number of Holmes stories that tell how became acquainted with Wiggins and the other Irregulars. It has long been my contention, (as explained in my own story “The Gower Street Murder” in Sherlock Holmes – Tangled Skeins) that there were a great number of Wiggins-es through the years, all related, and all with their own groups friends who made up sub-groups of Irregulars. This tale doesn’t disagree with any of that. It tells the important events in one of the bands of the Irregulars, adding a very important threat into The Great Holmes Tapestry.

It was especially interesting to me to see that Chapter 6 of this book consisted of a reworked version of “Blood Brothers”, Krisco’s contribution to The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories – Part III: 1896-1929. Curiously, in the original MX anthology version, the narrative occurs in 1913, and for this book it has been shifted to 1889. As a committed Sherlockian Chronologicist, I’ll have to work that out, but the facts of the case themselves are first-rate, as is the rest of the book.

This is the kind of Holmes book that is the real thing, and well worth reading. I look forward to the next one.

Reviewed by David Marcum

Irregular Lives is available from all good bookstores including The Strand MagazineAmazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Kindle, Kobo and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone).



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