RSS

Category Archives: Book Reviews

Winner of the 2011 Howlett Literary Award

The Norwood Author – Arthur Conan Doyle and the Norwood Years (1891 – 1894) by Alistair Duncan

Winner of the 2011 Howlett Literary Award (Sherlock Holmes book of the year) from the Sherlock Holmes Society of London.

During the 1891-1894 period Conan Doyle wrote and published much of his best work including the first two series of Sherlock Holmes short stories. This stunning book includes lots of never seen before material about the beloved creator of Sherlock Holmes.

This book, alongside Duncan’s other two Doyle biographies, provides great insight into Doyle’s real-life during the period stretching from 1891 to his death in 1930. Much of this material has not been seen in the previous Doyle biographies, and that should be an extra treat for scholars who study the life of the man.” – David Marcum

Fans of Sherlock Holmes know, more than anything, that the devil is in the details, and Alistair Duncan’s book is full of them. Details that shaped Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s life, writing, and the famous character that so many people love, are available is abundance, for those willing to seek them out. And I hope you do.” –  Jaime N. Mahoney

The Norwood Author is available from all good bookstores, in many formats worldwide including The Strand Magazine,  Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble,  Waterstones UKAmazon UK,  Book Depository (free worldwide delivery)Amazon KindleiBooks for the iPad/iPhone,Kobo Books and Nook.

norwood author

 

Tags: , , , , ,

The Adventures of Swearlot Holmes

Meet the world’s only swearing detective.

Swearlot Holmes of 221b is for bastard Baker Street, London. Thrill to excerpts and illustrations from many of his most curious cases such as ‘The Adventure Of The Sussex Swearwolf’ and ‘A Foul -Mouthed Cow In Belgravia’. In these dark, surreal and expletive-ridden examples, Swearlot proves not only is he a master of deduction, but a loquaciously lewd legend to boot. Each story is inspired by the original Strand magazine sketches. Written by (Dean) Earle Wilkinson, the writer of television’s SMTV Live and Chums and the console games LittleBigPlanet and Worms. With a career spanning decades he has written for the likes of John Cleese, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, and Harry Hill to name (drop) but a few.

Incredible book! Absolutely laugh out loud funny! Will more than likely offend some traditionalists but even the jokes are done with a keen knowledge of Holmesian lore! I will be enjoying this book for a long time to come. Different, coarse, and hilarious! Loved it!” – Ben Cardall

The Adventures of Swearlot Holmes is available from all good bookstores including The Strand MagazineAmazon USABarnes and Noble USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository. Available on Audio.

9781780928791

 

Tags: , ,

Review of Rendezvous at the Populaire

“ A tough assignment for an art student would be to paint a cohesive painting by mixing the styles of two different artists. An example would be using both the style of Rubens and Picasso, or maybe Rembrandt and Van Gogh. Difficult, yes?

That is sort of what Kate Workman has accomplished with this stunning tale that mixes the world of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the world of Gaston Leroux. The world’s greatest detective meets the mad genius of Erik, the Phantom of the Opera.

Holmes has reached a low point in his life. Having been seriously wounded in his right leg, Holmes has been told by Watson that he will need a cane for the rest of his life. Holmes is despondent and worries that he needs to retire.

Then a letter arrives from Paris. The new owners of the Paris Opera House, The Opera Populaire, are asking for aid. The Opera House is being held hostage by a phantom who demands monthly payments, a prime seat in the boxes, and occasionally suggests who should sing which role.

Having taken singer Christine Daae under his wing for private lessons, the Phantom wants her to be the star. When his demands are not met, he sends the heavy chandelier crashing into the stage and orchestra pit. He also hangs a man from the catwalks, scaring the entire opera.

Holmes learns that the Phantom has always been at the Opera House and that the former owner had no trouble, for he paid the Phantom’s monthly stipend and did not rent box five. The new owners are determined to defy the Phantom, even though they can afford to pay the stipend.

Join the battle of wits as Holmes beards the Phantom in his own lair beneath the Opera. Genius recognizes genius, and the two have more in common than either realizes at first. Like our art student, Kate Workman deftly wields both brushes, staying true to the Holmes tales and true to the Phantom, but making her masterpiece stand on its own. The twist ending is like the final flourish of brush on canvas, when the artist signs his work.

This novel is worth plus five out of five stars for the originality of the Holmes/Phantom blend! Encore!”

Reviewed by Raven

Rendezvous at the Populaire is available from all good bookstores including The Strand MagazineAmazon USA, Barnes and NobleAmazon UK and Waterstones UK. For elsewhere Book Depository who offer free delivery worldwide. In ebook format there is Amazon KindleKoboNook and iBooks (iPad and iPhone). Available on Audio.

perf5.500x8.500.indd

 

Tags: , , ,

Out today – The Detective, the Woman and the Pirate’s Bounty

In The Detective, The Woman and The Pirate’s Bounty, Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler retrace the steps of pirates as they uncover a conspiracy at the heart of Florida’s islands. Death threats and gangsters are not enough to stop the pair as they meet new friends and enemies while seeking pirate treasure and preserving law and order.

Thomas portrays this iconic character and his mannerisms brilliantly. The story was so good and is written in such a way that enables you to picture it happening; as if watching a film.  I’d most definitely like to read more from this author in the future.” – Curled up with a good book

The Detective, the Woman and the Pirate’s Bounty is available from all good bookstores including  Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Kindle.

9781787054141

 

Tags: , , ,

Review of The Celtic Phoenix: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure

It’s 1919 and Sherlock Holmes has retired to a South Coast cottage where he is using his past cases to compile a definitive work on crime and criminals. This is interrupted by the arrival in the post of a decorated jewellery case/casket inside which are a pair of testes. Is this a warning or perhaps a challenge, maybe from a murderer?

Back in London, at Scotland Yard, there is an investigation following a murder that has links to Holmes’ unusual package. An acquaintance of Dr Watson’s has been killed, his suspected murdered a young woman with a sad past. It’s claimed that the young worker, under the care of the Salvation Army, killed her master. The victim, like Holmes, had received something in the post that disturbed him.

The symbols on the casket (of testes) are Celtic in origin. The Celtics lived thousands of years ago, with a sacred and respectful view of nature, and equality between the sexes. Women, the birth-givers/creators of life, often took on leading and important roles, such as priests and warriors. Given the contents of the casket sent to Holmes, was this sent by a woman with a Celtic link?

One legendary cult of women warriors, the Sisters of Scathach, are making a return, and it could be timely. With slavery, sexual abuse, violence and discrimination rife, there’s plenty for such a group to fight against. But is this a welcome social justice campaign or criminal plan for revenge for modern crimes against women?

A former Baker Street irregular, Tessa Wiggins, teams up with Holmes – and to some extent Inspector Walls – as they attempt to prevent more killings and restore order, whilst serving justice. There are several strong female characters in a book which explores feminist issues that are as relevant today as they were 100 years ago.  

There are hidden items, secret codes and historic lore, making for an interesting adventure. A well told story from a writer comfortable with the Holmes canon.

Reviewed by Crime Thriller Hound

The Celtic Phoenix: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure is available from all good bookstores including The Strand MagazineAmazon USABarnes and Noble USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Kindle. Available on Audio.

9781787053816

 

Tags: , , ,

Review of Sherlock Holmes and The Sword of Osman

It is rare that I pick up a Holmes pastiche and immediately fall in love with it – but it happened with this book. Symonds managed to catch the voice of early retirement Watson so perfectly and with so much love and whimsical sarcasm that it is a joy to read from beginning to end. The story itself is set in a time when European powers were slowly realizing that a war unlike any before was approaching. Holmes and Watson come together for an adventure set in 1906 to make sure that the Sword of Osman, an insignia of the emperor of the Ottoman Empire, will remain in the hands of the ruling king in order to keep the brittle stability between several European nations and the Ottoman Empire intact. The initially mysterious client who sends the duo to Istanbul is Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary and a great admirer of both Holmes and Watson.

The adventure is complex, the case more difficult and dangerous than Holmes or Watson anticipate and rife with references to historical and political events – an intertextual feast. I do not want to give away too much of the story, but Symonds manages to write Sherlock Holmes and John Watson very close to how Doyle wrote them and yet manages to make them his own. The story is never boring and there are enough questions and mysteries to keep the reader on edge, especially with some knowledge on the political context (I recommend reading up in the relationship between Britain and the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the century for even greater enjoyment of the book).

Symonds also manages to do what very few pastiches manage: He makes the ending surprising even after Holmes offers us the solution to the mystery. It’s entertaining and educational and offers deeper insight into Holmes’s role in European politics, which results in his role as a double agent in Doyle’s “His Last Bow” as well as his relationship with John Watson and Mycroft Holmes.

It is definitely one of my favourite Holmes pastiches so far, and I am excited to read more of Symonds’s work.

Reviewed by The Baker Street Babes

Sherlock Holmes and the Sword of Osman is available from all good bookstores including The Strand MagazineAmazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository. In ebook format it is in KindleKoboNook and Apple iBooks(iPad/iPhone). Available on Audio.

178092755X

 

Review of Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Dying Emperor (Sherlock Holmes and the Crowned Heads of Europe Book 1)

There are pastiches, and then there are superlative pastiches.

Tom Turley’s novella, ‘The Case of the Dying Emperor’ (available on Kindle) falls firmly into the latter category. A question over the last illness of Frederick III, German Emperor and King of Prussia for 99 days in 1888, sends Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson to the Continent to investigate. A cast of real historical personages and places appear, each drawn with a level of detail and observation worthy of Holmes himself.

I had a sketchy knowledge of Frederick III, enough to know that his short reign is one of the great ‘What Ifs’ of history. Succeeded by his son, Wilhelm II, the infamous ‘Kaiser Bill’ as he was dubbed in Britain during the First World War, it is interesting to speculate on the course of history had Frederick lived. Given the international implications at the time, it is just the sort of case where you can imagine certain important figures turning to Holmes for his opinion. Watson also gets to shine, both with references to his background (based on the Baring-Gould model) and in his medical expertise. Add to this canon fidelity, and there’s plenty to keep the most ardent Sherlock Holmes fan, as well as the casual reader, engaged and delighted.

A problem I have found in the past with stories set in real historical settings is either too much or too little period detail. Mr Turley achieves an admirable balance. There are footnotes for those who want more information; if not, there is enough in the story to explain what is happening. Any necessary explanation flows naturally in conversations with appropriate language for the period between the principal characters without ever overwhelming the reader. Touches like these give the work an authentic feel, sweeping me up in the illusion that I really was reading a story written at the time.

It’s not often I get to say this, but ‘The Case of the Dying Emperor’ truly is a masterclass in the fine art of the Sherlock Holmes pastiche. Faithfulness to the characters, dedicated research and a clear, erudite style of writing makes this a story that I will be returning to again and again.

Reviewed by S.F. Bennett

Available on Kindle.

dying emperor

 

Tags: , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: