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Review of Sherlock Holmes: The Julia Moriarty Trilogy

Imagine the awesome mind, and awful morals, of Professor Moriarty in a more attractive, equally lethal package. Impossible, you say? Not at all, for Dick Gillman has uncovered a fact that seems to have escaped Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: the professor had a younger sister! Now she’s back, bent on resurrecting her late brother’s criminal network, wreaking havoc on the British Empire and—far worse—gaining her revenge on Sherlock Holmes. Gillman introduces Julia in three interwoven stories, published as a trilogy in this slim but entertaining volume. In “The Shadow of James Moriarty,” his feminine shadow inserts a horrifying intermission into a play by Oscar Wilde, leading to an initial confrontation with our heroes Holmes and Watson. “The Highgate Magician” raises the diplomatic stakes, for a young woman’s seemingly simple disappearance masks an international intrigue. Finally, in “The Severed Finger,” Julia engineers a kidnapping that could cost Great Britain the Boer War before it has begun. Throughout the trilogy, Holmes dazzles with deductive brilliance, Watson provides strong support, and Mycroft is caught between conflicting loyalties. It can be said, without revealing spoilers, that this new Moriarty proves as dangerous a nemesis for Holmes as the original. She is also, alas, far more elusive. Bad news for our detective, but good news for readers, who can look forward to Mr. Gillman bringing Julia back to fight another day.

Reviewed by Thomas A. Turley

Sherlock Holmes and The Julia Moriarty Trilogy – 2nd Edition 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).

9781780927640

 

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Sherlock Holmes Book Review – Sherlock Holmes and The Nine Dragon Sigil

“This new investigation set in 1906 spirits Holmes and Watson away from the pea-soup streets of London to the exotic Orient. Rumours abound that a deadly plot is hatching in the Forbidden City in faraway Peking. Holmes must discover whether such a plot exists and if so, foil it. Are the assassins targeting the young and progressive Ch’ing Emperor or his imperious aunt, the fearsome Empress Dowager Cixi? The murder of either could spark a civil war. China’s fate and the interests of Britain’s Empire in the Orient could be at stake. Early reviews say it’s ‘a great addition to the Sherlockian world, with a brilliantly constructed plot, complete with clever clues and moments of action, humour and mystery.’”

Murder, Mystery, Mayhem and More (10th March, 2017)

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).

9781787050358

 

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Review of The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part V

Despite their common Christmas season setting, the 30 stories in this latest collection of traditional pastiches are not lacking in variety. For connoisseurs of pure deduction, tales by Mike Chinn, Jan Edwards, Arthur Hall, Roger Riccard, and S. Subramanian show Holmes at his most brilliant. (A future MX volume will feature more “untold” cases from the Canon like Mr. Subramanian’s.) Several pairs of stories revolve around a single theme. Jealousy motivates the crimes recorded by Bob Byrne and Denis O. Smith; Queen Victoria figures in offerings from Derrick Belanger and Julie McKuras; S.F. Bennett and Marcia Wilson tell similarly gruesome Christmas stories, the former redeemed by an unexpected heroine. In selections by James Lovegrove and Vincent Wright, Holmes and Watson concoct Christmas entertainments for each other, with rather mixed results. Most enjoyable of all, perhaps, are tales that cast new light on the personalities and relationship of our two heroes. C.H. Dye paints a delightful portrait of their second Christmas as young bachelors, while David Marcum illuminates Holmes’ religious beliefs in an even earlier story. Two fine concluding works by Hugh Ashton and Mark Mower, set in and after World War I, show that the long friendship between our detective and his Boswell has only deepened through the years. As Marcum notes in his introduction, Conan Doyle’s London was only a generation removed from Charles Dickens’. The Dickensian spirit of Christmas shines through many of these tales, notably John Hall’s, Tracy Revels’, and Amy Thomas’s. Ms. Revels’ moving story, in particular, proves that those who consider Holmes as much a misogynist as Scrooge are very much in error. Happily, the quality of this ongoing MX anthology remains as high as ever, with four new volumes set to appear within the next two years. Surely that news, for Sherlockians, is the nicest Christmas gift of all.

Reviewed by Thomas A. Turley

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).

9781780929958

 

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Review of The Vatican Cameos

Ryan’s series debut is a must for die-hard Sherlock Holmes fans. Crafted in Arthur Conan Doyle’s style, it opens with a Roman Catholic cardinal asking Holmes’ help in recovering cameos created by Michelangelo in the 16th century that have been stolen from the Vatican.

In Rome, Holmes’ and Watson’s sleuthing is rife with familiar ACD trappings, from their respective character traits and procedural approach to problem solving, on to the imaginative means of maneuvering around inevitable hurdles, and down to the trademark minutiae of ACD’s storytelling.

The action time-travels between 1501, when the cameos were created, and 1901, when Holmes and Watson meet with Pope Leo XII. Compatible to a fault with the arcane aspects of ACD’s Sherlock, the story offers a well-researched cultural history of the papacy.

Ryan, author of “The Official Sherlock Holmes Trivia Book (Quinlan Press), is at work on his next Holmes mystery.

Reviewed by Fran Wood

The Vatican Cameos 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, Nook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone). Also available on Audible.

FRONT COVER

 

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New review of Sherlock Holmes and The Nine-Dragon Sigil

Firstly, I’m not a raving fan of Sherlock Holmes, though I’m certainly an admirer of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I read several Sherlock books in my younger years enjoying their adventure and appreciated their cleverly weaved plots, even if it was other works of Doyle that really grabbed me. Professor Challenger, who first appeared in ‘The Lost World’ has always been my favourite character. So a relatively weak amateur fan of the original books though I am, I couldn’t but enjoy how genuine this read felt. I could have easily been fooled into thinking that this was the writing of the great man himself. Further, even the plot was worthy of the Sherlock Holmes stamp.
This book is not only brilliantly written, it is exceedingly well researched. I enjoyed the detail in the history every bit as much as the story itself. The historical fiction is as clever as the stylistically accurate incorporation of by far the two most famous characters of Doyle’s huge imagination—two characters as famous as any in literary fiction.
I very much enjoyed the ‘glossary’ at the end of the book, which gave depth to so much of the period detail. This additional information doesn’t add to, or subtract from, the story itself, but certainly gives those such as I, ignorant of Chinese history, a much needed and speedy education. All the material is self-explanatory enough in the run of the story, however, the additional information rounds off this reading experience quite delightfully.
I recommend this book to fans of Sherlock Holmes, lovers of historical fiction and to all those that like a wide variety of well-written fiction. I will be looking to read further books from Tim Symonds’ pen.

Reviewed by  Mr. Richard Lw Bunning

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).

9781787050358

 

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Review of Sherlock Holmes as a Pipe Smoker

Excellent work on the beloved character Sherlock Holmes. Instead of examining the mystery stories, this book discusses Sherlock Holmes and his constant companion, his pipe. The text is filled with well-organized details of the tobacco use of Mr. Holmes in his many adventures. A great read for anyone who loves Sherlock Holmes. Filled with many reproductions of the artwork from early stories, the book is an essential tool for all those interested in the history of Sherlock Holmes. Lots of references for the academic study of Sherlock Holmes as a character!

Reviewed by Marty Ludlum

Sherlock Holmes as a Pipe Smoker is available from all good bookstores including The Strand Magazine, Amazon USA, Amazon UK,  Waterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository.

9781780928005

 

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Review of Test of the Professionals I

Last year, Marcia Wilson joined the Sherlockian mainstream with her wonderful debut novel You Buy Bones. Beginning just after the fateful meeting between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, it transformed the Scotland Yarders—Gregson, Bradstreet, and Lestrade—from mere foils to be outshone by Holmes into living, breathing characters in their own right. Since then, Ms. Wilson’s short stories have been featured in several MX Publishing anthologies, edited by David Marcum, and in Derrick Belanger’s anthology Beyond Watson.


Now she carries her saga forward to the autumn of 1883, as the Yarders investigate seemingly unrelated waterfront crimes (missing seamen, stolen flour barrels) linked to an agent of the master criminal who still lurks behind the scenes. Whereas Watson was as important as the Yarders to the plot of You Buy Bones, here the focus is on Inspector Geoffrey Lestrade. In Ms. Wilson’s hands, he becomes a full-fledged personality, not the one-dimensional character we met in Doyle. While not the smartest of the Yarders, “Inspector Plod” is truly (as Holmes admits) the best of them, due to his iron sense of ethics (for which he has paid a heavy price) and his grim determination to battle both criminals and his own limitations in the pursuit of justice. In Test, we learn of an incident in Lestrade’s past that forever darkened his relations with his family, as well as his career at Scotland Yard. An old enemy returns to devil him, serving as both the charming, heartless villain of the piece and a romantic rival. For Test is also the story of Lestrade’s meeting with Clea Cheatham, a young woman of independent mind and her own unusual family and backstory. Like the inspector’s, they are woven skillfully into the tale.


Underlying these delights of plot and character is some amazing historical research. Marcia Wilson has an encyclopedic knowledge of Victorian minutia; happily, her footnotes are helpful rather than intrusive. Osage orange trees, Krakatoa, mudlarks, and tie-mates all find their places in the story. A potato pie, we learn, can be an insult. There are even notes explaining Inspector Bradstreet’s strange invective. On another level, Ms. Wilson writes with compassion of the day-to-day perils of the London poor. We see far more of Watson as a doctor, and of Mrs. Hudson as a housekeeper, than we ever did in Doyle.


Readers who buy A Test of the Professionals should not expect a traditional Sherlock Holmes pastiche. Ms. Wilson does not tell her story with Victorian reserve; her intimate, informal style is in keeping with the rough-and-tumble lives led by the Yarders. Yet, devotees of the Master will find nothing to offend them, for the characters in Test are never incompatible with their originals. The idiosyncrasies of Holmes, and his interactions with Watson and the Yarders, are as familiar and delightful here as ever. The difference is that for her canvas of Victorian London, Marcia Wilson employs a more colorful palette and a broader brush than Conan Doyle’s. Such is her artistry that she enriches and fully brings to life the world he left us.

Reviewed by Thomas A. Turley

Test of the Professionals I 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 and Kobo.

9781787050297

 

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