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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.

when the song of the angels

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Kirkus review of The Complete Diaries of Young Arthur Conan Doyle

Ever wonder where Arthur Conan Doyle got his Sherlock Holmes ideas? From his thrill-packed diaries, according to these takeoffs on the iconic detective series…

The team of medical historian Raffensperger and writing professor Krevolin (The Mystery of the Scarlet Homes of Sherlock, 2016) tweaks the Holmes tales to focus on forensics, with intriguing demonstrations of period surgical breakthroughs along with much procedural. (“Bell cut around the tumor until the gyri and sulci of the temporal lobe of the brain came into view.”) They adroitly pilfer tropes from their classic sources, reveling in Victorian trash talk—“You dare to lay hands on a nobleman!”—and contrivances: mystery men are reliably killed before they can spill their information, and in one bad spot the heroes rely on crazed monkeys for rescue. The authors rack up the body count with awesome efficiency, but some of the mayhem, like an organ extraction from a conscious, paralyzed patient, conveys a chilling horror. Fans should find Bell a worthy epitome of Holmes, his deductions a higher form of know-it-all-ism—“Graceland Cemetery is well known for its fine stand of Hazelnut trees and there is a Hazelnut leaf stuck to the underside of your muddy left shoe”—and his right to rule serenely unchallengeable. Conan Doyle, a sad sack who misses the clues and loses the girls, bears Bell’s insults—“Laddie, sometimes I wonder if you have the cerebral facility for a future in the medical arts”—with quiet indignity but makes for an engaging observer of the hoopla. While it’s all a bit formulaic, the authors stage the proceedings with aplomb, regaling readers with energetic storytelling and colorful characters.

An entertaining, rollicking addition to the Holmes-verse, combining real-world lore with over-the-top melodrama.

Read the full review here.

The Complete Diaries of Young Arthur Conan Doyle is available from all good bookstores including The Strand Magazine, Amazon USA, Barnes and Noble USA, Amazon UKWaterstones UK and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository.

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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…”

Read the full review here.

Pre publication copies are available from The Strand Magazine.

when the song of the angels

 

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