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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.

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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.

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Review of A Chronology of the Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Revised 2018 Edition

A Chronology of the Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by Brian W. Pugh (2018 MX Publishing) was first published in 2009, revised and expanded in 2012 and 2014, and an Addenda & Corrigenda was published in 2016. This 2018 edition has been completely updated and includes information located during research since 2016. The first section contains a family tree and a detailed chronology of the life of ACD and his family from 1755 to 1930. This is followed by sections on events from 1930 to 1998. An Arctic Voyage in 1880, maps of Conan Doyle’s travels, the residences of Conan Doyle and his family, locations of plaques and statues, Conan Doyle and cricket are just a few of the topics covered. A list of biographies and semi-biographical works will aid future researchers in finding the seminal works, a list of facsimile manuscripts that have been published will help some collectors assess their own library. Finally, there are several photographs of ACD and his family at various times of his life; some have not appeared in print before. This publication proves that there is far more to Conan Doyle than just Sherlock Holmes. If you have an interest in the life of Conan Doyle or plan on writing or researching anything dealing with him, this book should be on your bookshelf today.”

Reviewed by Mark Alberstat, Canadian Holmes, Winter 2018/2019

A Chronology of the Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Revised 2018 Edition 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.

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“An engaging addition to Sherlock Holmes legendry.”

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

Before Sherlock Holmes meets John Watson, the young detective solves crimes with a bright lady friend in this delectable “before Watson” novel.

In Croyle’s (The Caretaker, 2009) new series, Holmes is a loner college student at Oxford in 1874 when he’s bitten by a dog visiting the campus with its owner, Priscilla “Poppy” Stamford. Guilt over the dog bite forces Poppy and her suitor, Victor Trevor, to take an interest in Sherlock’s welfare, and a friendship forms between the three. Though studying nursing, Poppy is keen to become a doctor, but England’s medical schools aren’t yet open to females. Medical training, Poppy says, is “a door still closed to me. Universities like Oxford and Cambridge, and medical schools were largely bastions of male privilege.” Her feminist sensibilities are conveyed in language appropriate to the era, and Poppy makes quite a fine narrator—and heroine. Her sharp mind draws Sherlock’s attention, and soon they and a few friends are sleuthing together. A serial killer known as the Angel Maker is somehow acquiring and murdering illegitimate babies, their tiny bodies thrown into the River Thames like trash. While Poppy’s compassion has her yearning to solve the case, Sherlock’s intellect and curiosity compel him—and perhaps his affection for Poppy. Croyle doesn’t try to re-create the style of Arthur Conan Doyle’s John Watson; instead, he conjures a fresh, new narrator in Poppy, sister of the man who eventually introduces Sherlock and Watson. The book needs better editing, though, to catch omitted words and spotty punctuation of dialogue. Holmes fans will find much to enjoy here, including Sherlock and Poppy’s friendship with her friend Effie’s cousin, writer Oscar Wilde. Also, Trevor is the son of Mr. Trevor from Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Gloria Scott,” and that story gets a retelling here. This fast-paced tale will appeal to those who like to ponder what made Sherlock Holmes the great detective he was, and hearing his story from a female perspective is particularly enjoyable.

An engaging addition to Sherlock Holmes legendry.

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

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The Sherlock Holmes Society of London reviews The Druid of Death – A Sherlock Holmes Adventure

“As an unashamed fan of new Sherlock Holmes stories, I am discomfited to admit that I had not read any of Richard T Ryan’s earlier novels. This is his third, and a splendid book it is. The plot revolves around some mysterious deaths, bearing the hallmarks of ritualistic sacrifice or cult murder. Scotland Yard is baffled, and Inspector Lestrade invites Holmes and Watson to assist. Our heroes are drawn into the mysterious lore of ancient druidic symbols and Celtic mythology to face a race against time in unravelling the case and preventing further bloodshed. The pace is well-judged, and it is a gripping and colourful tale from the offset. Ryan’s style is reassuringly familiar, and he clearly has a respect for the Canon, demonstrated in the many neat references and affectionate nods to the characters, stories and intrigues of the original texts. Another fine touch is the inclusion of the Revd Sabine Baring-Gould, real-life grandfather of the celebrated Sherlockian, William S Baring-Gould. Ryan demonstrates a comprehensive knowledge of British history and there is good attention to detail throughout this tale. It is a great story told with skill and affection.” – Mark Mower

The Druid of Death – 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.

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The Sherlock Holmes Society of London reviews A Chronology of the Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Revised 2018 Edition

Brian Pugh has been working on his chronology of Arthur Conan Doyle for many years. The 2009 edition was a trusty companion and, as it went through subsequent revisions, I was gratified to see my own works referred to in its pages. I value and admire Brian’s work so much that it is an honour to be mentioned alongside great names such as Stashower, Lycett, Dickson Carr and Nordon. This latest version is enormous at over 450 pages — roughly three times the size of the 2009 edition.

So what do you get in this edition? First and foremost it incorporates all corrections to previous editions, thus superseding them. It also includes all the maps (now in full colour) and material featured in the 2016 Addenda & Corrigenda. Then, of course, there are the fruits of Brian’s latest research: family trees, maps, photographs of residences, commemorative plaques, graves, a day-by-day list of pertinent activities, a bibliography of Conan Doyle and those who’ve written about him. There are also photos, of which some are appearing in print, it is believed, for the first time. Any student of Doyle (and Holmes) needs to be equipped with certain books — the core texts if you will. This is a vital element of that core library.

A Chronology of the Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Revised 2018 Edition is available from all good bookstores including The Strand MagazineAmazon USABarnes and Noble USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository.

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Review of Baker Street Beat – an Eclectic Collection of Sherlockian Scribblings

Before he created the McCabe and Cody series – [Or is it Cody and McCabe? It depends on whom you ask, and it’s an interesting point to ponder … .] Dan Andriacco had written a variety of Sherlockian items – essays, plays, and even a pastiche. Fortunately, instead of being forced to seek each of these out in their various original points of publication, they have all been collected in “Baker Street Beat”.

There’s something here for every Sherlockian. There are a couple of radio plays – one of “The Speckled Band”, and one with a more contemporary feel. For those that like Sherlockian Scholarship, the book includes several essays, including one which is of particular interest to me, “Writing the Holmes Pastiche”. Another of equal importance is “You Know My Methods, Watson”, examining the connections between Holmes and Dr. Thorndyke, another of my heroes. And then there’s “Reichenbach Pilgrimage”, which means a lot to me since I haven’t been able to get there yet – and in the meantime this essay helps to provide valuable information until I do.

As a devotee of Holmes Adventures, what I want most is MORE adventures. And this book has a real winner, Dan Andriacco’s own version of “The Peculiar Persecution of John Vincent Harden”. As much as I enjoy his McCabe and Cody [Cody and McCabe?] books, I want him to write more Holmes pastiches! Are you listening, Mr. Andriacco?

This book has been around since 2011, but it certainly hasn’t gone out of date. Add it to your Holmes collection today!

Reviewed by David Marcum

Baker Street Beat is available through all good bookstores including in the USA  Amazon USABarnes and Noble, in the UK Amazon and Waterstones, and for all other countries Book Depository who offer free worldwide delivery. In electronic formats Amazon KindleKoboNook, and iTunes for the iPad. Available on Audio.

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