Tag Archives: book review

The Sherlock Holmes Society of London reviews Sherlock Holmes and The Nine-Dragon Sigil

Sherlock Holmes and the Nine-Dragon Sigil by Tim Symonds. MX Publishing. 2016. 364pp. (pbk) The frontispiece tells us that a sigil is an inscribed or painted symbol or occult sign considered to have magical power. It’s an intriguing opener for an entirely captivating story transporting us back, effortlessly, to the Forbidden City of China in 1906. There is great attention to detail, demonstrating the author’s clear love of both the Canon and world history. The tale revolves around an assassination plot and the welldrawn characters of Emperor Ch’ing and his aunt, the Empress Dowager Cixi. The pace is fast throughout, but Symonds is skilful at painting in lots of period features and fascinating facts which add great texture and encourage us to pause and reflect ont he strange world that our heroes are thrust into. There is also a helpful glossary at the end. This is clever pastiche with a strong narrative and well-judged humour. A thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish.

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 Sherlock Holmes: Hitler’s Messenger of Death

“…The story winds through a series of deadly encounters with Nazi agents. Holmes and Watson, accompanied by an agent of M known only as “James,” are captured and nearly killed several times over. Burning houses, speeding trains, auto chases and more bring our heroes and the Nazis closer and closer to a showdown.

The final face-off takes place aboard the doomed Hindenburg on its flight to the United States. The final reveal is a welcome surprise. Good show, Petr Macek!

I give the book five stars! It rocks!

Reviewed by Raven’s Reviews

Sherlock Holmes and Hitler’s Messenger of Death 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 Graceland Cemetery in Chicago – A Sherlockian Walk Midst the Tombstones

Brenda Rossini’s GRACELAND CEMETERY IN CHICAGO: A SHERLOCKIAN WALK MIDST THE TOMBSTONES (2017; 54pp.) provides visitors with a guided tour of the graves of Vincent Starrett and many others (accompanied by notes on their sometimes-tenuous Sherlockians connections), plus “The Story of Gina” (a lady who had a colorful life, and a thoroughly outré demise).

Reviewed by Peter E. Blau

Graceland Cemetery in Chicago – A Sherlockian Walk Midst the Tombstones is available from all good bookstores including in the USA The Strand Magazine, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, in the UK Amazon, 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 Sherlock Holmes on The Roof of The World (Holmes Behind The Veil Book 1)

Glad to finally have this as a real book … .
I’ve been collecting Sherlock Holmes pastiches for over four decades. When I started, as a boy in the mid-1970’s, they were hard to find. Since then, I’ve managed to collect, read, and chronologicize literally thousands of them. I accelerated my collecting dramatically in the 1990’s, when I went back to school for a second degree in civil engineering and gained much better access to the internet, a capacity for unlimited printing at the university, and rights to use (and abuse) the school’s interlibrary loan program. I was able to track down many pastiches that I’d never even heard of before. I purchased a lot of them, but a lot more were harder to find, and I could only borrow them from various libraries around the country and then make Xerox copies, which I’ve kept in binders ever since. One of the first that I tracked down, and one that I’d never managed to replace as a real book, was Thomas Kent Miller’s “Sherlock Holmes on the Roof of the World”. Now, finally, MX has brought this rare book to the masses.

This is a tale of The Great Hiatus, when Holmes, traveling incognito, roamed the world between 1891 and 1894, letting everyone but his brother Mycroft believe that he had been killed at the Reichenbach Falls by Professor Moriarty. There have been numerous stories about what Holmes did during those three years, as he ranged from Tibet and the Far East, the Middle East, and even the United States and part of Europe. (His short summary of where he went during this time, as provided to Watson in “The Empty House”, was just a tiny fraction of all the he was able to accomplish during this period.) 

Of course, this volume isn’t narrated by Watson, who remained behind in England, believing that Holmes had died. Rather, the narrator of this tale is the engaging Leo Vincey, who encounters “Sigerson” in Tibet, and of course becomes involved in a plot of far-reaching implications. The discovery that they make has been explored in other books as well, but to my mind, having the subject matter revealed by Holmes takes it to a whole new – and much better – level. 

Mr. Miller’s other works, “The Great Detective at the Crucible of Life” and “The Sussex Beekeeper at the Dawn of Time” have also been re-released with this volume by MX as part of a handsome matching set. As with this volume, there is a heavy association in each of the stories with matters relating to Allan Quatermain. (I haven’t personally read any of those narratives, but it isn’t necessary to appreciate Mr. Miller’s works.) 

I highly recommend this book, and I’m glad to have it as a real book now, after having re-read it for so long in the binder where the old Xerox copy resides. Thanks, Mr. Miller and MX!

Reviewed by David Marcum

Sherlock Holmes on The Roof of The World 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.



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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.

Stone of Destiny FC mockup (2)


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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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