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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).



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Review of Sherlock Holmes and A Hole in The Devil’s Tail

Another tale about the True Holmes!

I believe that this is Mr. Messick’s first Holmes adventure, and it starts in the right direction by telling us more about the true Holmes, and just keeps going. Set in the 1890’s, Holmes is faced by two mysteries, a locked room puzzle related to the mysterious murder of a solicitor, and a series of connected murders linked by their ferocity, along with Tarot cards found on the victim’s bodies.

This convoluted tale moves back and forth between the two cases, and Holmes finds himself threatened by the Tarot killer, who promises that, if Holmes does not cease his investigations, retribution will be swift – not on the detective, but rather those that he cares about.

One of the things that I enjoyed most was the investigation of the locked room puzzle, and how it relates to the Hole in the Devil’s Tail, as mentioned in the book’s title. It isn’t what you would expect. And I always enjoy when something is thrown in that teaches me something at no extra charge – in this case, how cracks were repaired in marble statues in ancient times. The way that this bit of information is relevant is a treat, as is the way that Holmes reveals it.

I’ll be looking forward to Mr. Messick’s next offering from Watson’s Tin Dispatch Box.”

Reviewed by David Marcum

Sherlock Holmes and A Hole In The Devil’s Tail 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 on Audible.



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