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Review of The Stone of Destiny

Sherlock Holmes has been to Ireland before – but never for stakes as high as this.

Over the course of his professional career, Sherlock Holmes has visited Ireland on numerous occasions. Although none of these sojourns were chronicled by the first Literary Agent, who only wrote a paltry 60 stories, other “editors” of Watson’s notes have provided quite a few details about some of Holmes and Watson’s other trips to The Emerald Isle.

A few of these cases – but not all – include: “The Matter of the Sudden Death of Cardinal Tosca” in “My Dear Watson” and “The Abergavenny Murder” in “The Vital Essence”, both by Sherlockian scholar David Hammer; “The Irish Professor” in “Sherlock Holmes: The Tandridge Hall Murder”  by Eddie Maguire; and “The Case of the Mysterious Painting”, an excellent Fan-Fiction by Don Conlan. But perhaps none of his visits across the Irish Sea have such great consequences as in “The Stone of Destiny” by Richard T. Ryan.

The book opens with the death of Queen Victoria in February 1901. Irish nationalists see this an opportunity and steal the Stone of Scone, whose long history includes its traditional use in the coronation of new kings and queens of England.

The Stone has been stolen before, of course. In late 1950, it was taken by a group of Scottish students. And before that, it was stolen in late 1930, and subsequently recovered by Solar Pons, “The Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street”, as related in the Pons tale, “The Adventure of the Stone of Scone”. It’s good to know that Holmes was able to help when it was stolen even earlier. (One has to wonder if Solar Pons, when investigating the later theft, knew of Holmes’s involvement nearly three decades earlier.)

After the Stone is taken, Holmes and Watson travel to Ireland, wherein Holmes gains great practice on something of a trial run for the years 1912-1914, when he will again be undercover, then taking on the identity of the Irish-American Altamont in an affair covered in the Canonical story, “His Last Bow”. No doubt, his experiences in this narrative gave him great insight as to how to portray an Irishman a decade later.

It’s fun in this story to see Holmes and Watson revisit sites where they have traveled in previous adventures. For instance, in this tale Watson visits Blarney Castle, the same place where he and Holmes had already solved a case in March 1896, as related in the radio episode, “The Adventure of the Blarney Stone” (“The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes”, March 18, 1946, by Denis Green and Anthony Boucher), and also in the text version of the same adventure, included in “The Lost Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Don Greenwald.

Like in his previous book, “The Vatican Cameos”, Ryan alternates between Watson’s part of the story, and an equal amount of time given over to a third-person narrative chronicling the actions of the criminals. In “The Vatican Cameos”, the alternating non-Watson chapters were set hundreds of years before Holmes and Watson’s part of the story, and could have been removed and never missed, as they only served to provide some background details. In this case, the alternating chapters are concurrent with Holmes’s investigation.

There were a few errors in the book, as in chapter titles with dates that don’t quite match up with the chronology of what’s happening in the text, and some London-related issues, such as when the third-person narrative indicates that Edgware Road is a short distance from Liverpool Street Station, and that one catches a train for Liverpool from Liverpool Street Station. (To get to Liverpool, one departs from Euston Station.) However, these issues, while a bit jarring, don’t take away from the overall quality of the story.

The Holmes that I admire most is the capable figure who has all the threads in hand, and is one step ahead of his opponents – or if he doesn’t have all the threads quite yet, he can at least make the other side think that he does. I really enjoyed that aspect of this book, and when you read it, you’ll understand what I mean and agree with me.

Reviewed by David Marcum

The Stone of Destiny: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure is available for from all good bookstores including The Strand Magazine, Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Kindle.

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Review of The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part V: Christmas Adventures

Volume V of this amazing series contains thirty-one short works of Holmes fiction. Giving a line or two to each would take up more lines of review than the average reader would be willing to peruse. Overall, the book is awesome! The major reason I am now in possession of Volume VI is a statement to the quality of the stories in this series!…Given the incredible amount of talent shining in this MX series, how could I give the volume anything except FIVE STARS PLUS!

Reviewed by Raven’s Reviews

The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories – Part V: Christmas Adventures is available from all good bookstores including The Strand Magazine, Amazon USA, Amazon UKWaterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone).

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Review of Irregular Lives

This has been most fascinating! I believe this book fills a place that has too long been missing from the world of Sherlock Holmes. The Baker Street Irregulars feature in many of the canonical stories, yet other than Wiggins we seldom know their names. Even with Wiggins mentioned, his life outside of being one of Holmes eyes and ears is a total blank.

This book explores the boys (and girls) that make up the Baker Street Irregulars…

I loved the book although I really felt the ending was so sad! I give the book five stars! I would love to see this point explored even further! Good show, Kim Krisco! Bravo and encore!

Reviewed by Raven’s Reviews

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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Sherlock Holmes and The Mystery of Einstein’s Daughter

The Dean of a Swiss university persuades Sherlock Holmes to investigate the background of a would-be lecturer. To Dr. Watson it seems a very humdrum commission – but who is the mysterious ‘Lieserl’? How does her existence threaten the ambitions of the technical assistant level III in Room 86 at the Federal Patents Office in Berne by the name of Albert Einstein? The assignment plunges Holmes and Watson into unfathomable Serbia to solve one of the intractable mysteries of the 20th Century. In Tim Symonds’ previous detective novels, Sherlock Holmes and the Dead Boer At Scotney Castle and Sherlock Holmes And The Case Of The Bulgarian Codex the author based pivotal historic facts and a principal character on real life. So too in this new mystery.

Einstein’s Daughter by Tim Symonds takes the reader back to the early years of the 20th Century. It is an enjoyable romp for both Sherlock Holmes fans and for history buffs. The story is based on a true fact of Albert Einstein’s life and it is interwoven with Sherlockian grace. There are many Homes pastices, but Symonds manages to find the true voice of Conan Doyle.” –  Yvonne Beltzer

Sherlock Holmes and The Mystery of Einstein’s Daughter is available from all good bookstores including The Strand Magazine,  Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository . In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle,  Kobo, Nook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone).

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Review of The Outrage at the Diogenes Club: Sherlock Holmes and the American Literati, Book 4

Victor’s ingenious weaving of fact with fiction, and the inclusion of highly relevant Jack London quotes at the beginning of each chapter, make this a very interesting read. He takes obvious delight in dropping names while uncovering the arcane in the Holmes sagas and “editing” Watson’s mysteries to suit his device of uniting American literati with the great detective. All who relish Sherlockiana should enjoy this series.

Read the full review here.

The Outrage at the Diogenes Club (Sherlock Holmes and the American Literati Book 4) is available from all good bookstores including The Strand Magazine, Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone). Also available in Audio.

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Review of Sherlock Holmes and The Nine-Dragon Sigil

Sigil. Pronounced ‘sijil’. An inscribed or painted symbol or occult sign considered to have magical power.” So begins the very latest Sherlock Holmes mystery and adventure from the pen of Institute member, Tim Symonds: a writer who has immersed himself in the drama and legend of England and the Empire’s greatest detective; and, through his brilliant, authentic re-creations of an era, honours the original work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – to the extent that one could almost believe that a miraculous, ageless Sir Arthur was still writing today.

With each new Sherlock adventure, Tim seems to find ever-more exciting and intriguing adventures for his heroes. From book to book, there is simply no lessening of either inspiration or tension. This time, the action moves to the closed, forbidden celestial world of the imperial Chinese court – to a China (of 1906) a year in which a progressive Ch’ing Emperor finds himself at odds with the old order, in the form of the Empress Dowager – guardian of tradition and an insularity that stretches back to a time out of mind, and where secret symbols – of mysticism and dragons – could mean life or death. But British interests are at stake, and the prospect of uprisings and assassinations could be catastrophic for His Majesty’s Government, playing as it is, ‘The Great Game.’…”   

Read the full review here.

Reviewed by The Journal of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

Sherlock Holmes and The Nine-Dragon Sigil is available from all good bookstores including The Strand Magazine, Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone).

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Review of When the Song of the Angels is Stilled: A Before Watson Novel

It would be faint praise to call this novel merely a fine Sherlock Holmes pastiche. What A.S. Croyle has written is a complex, moving novel with memorable characters of her own creation (including the most appealing heroine since Irene Adler), besides a fascinating portrait of young Sherlock Holmes. Here is a callow, more vulnerable Sherlock than we are used to seeing, yet unmistakably the youth who will become the man. The case that he and Poppy Stamford undertake to solve incorporates the oldest Canon mystery, “The Gloria Scott,” and centers on an “Angel Maker.” Rooted in historical events, it reminds those who would romanticize Victorian London that its underworld was, in fact, a truly awful place. The novel’s most important revelation is that Sherlock Holmes was being less than honest when he told Dr. Watson: “I have never loved.” Disproving that claim may seem like heresy to some Sherlockians, but our lovelorn young hero loses Poppy Stamford precisely because he is already trapped inside the man that Conan Doyle created. We mourn their fate, even though it was inevitable, for love might have made the great detective (if nothing else) a far less lonely man. Happily, the author devises an ending that reconciles us to his loss. After finishing When the Song of the Angels is Stilled, I felt I fully understood, for the first time, why Sherlock Holmes became the man he was. That is the measure of Ms. Croyle’s achievement, and it took a fine novelist—not merely a fine writer of pastiches—to accomplish it.

Reviewed by Thomas A. Turley

The Bird and The Buddha – A Before Watson Novel – Book Two

When the Song of the Angels is Stilled: A Before Watson Novel is available from all good bookstores including The Strand Magazine,  Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble USA, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK,and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository . In ebook format it is in Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone). Also available in Audio.

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