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Review of A Study In Crimson, the 2nd Female Sherlock Holmes Story from Molly Carr, by An Ill-dressed Vagabond

A Study In CrimsonPhil K. Jones aka An Ill-dressed Vagabond is one of the USA’s leading Holmes reviewers – here is his take on ‘A Study in Crimson‘.

“This is the second book in Molly Carr’s ‘Watson – Fanshaw Detective Agency’ series. It follows events in The Sign of Fear rather directly and continues in much the same vein. Again, Watson natters, Holmes is always out on some sort of business, Lestrade needs help and odd clients turn up in the strangest places (or is that strange clients in oddest places?).

It is difficult to be more specific as the author wanders from situation to situation in a random fashion. Evildoers rush in and take captives, innocents escape miraculously and the police are baffled with a great deal of regularity. Most new clients seem to lead to old crimes and very few people are what (or who!) they seem. For example, ‘the old Russian woman,’ cited in “The Musgrave Ritual,” is not really so old, is definitely a woman, and is STILL not who she seems to be.

The author continues in her casual attitude toward the Canon. It is hard to keep track of which printed tales actually happened, which were invented by Holmes and who was actually responsible for which crimes. At any given time, it is hard to keep track of which adventure is being investigated, one of the Canonical, but unreal tales or one of the Untold, but actual tales. The same uncertainty applies to persons. Black Gorgiano’s grandson wanders in from nowhere accompanied by The Pinkerton Detective, Mr. Leverton, neither of whom is what he seems to be. The Poirots, pere et fils, turn up with disturbing regularity, again, not whom they seem to be.

Old school chums, and some never known in ANY school, appear and disappear at inconvenient moments. Clients turn into criminals and, of course, criminals into clients. It is not always clear when these changes occur, but occur they do, even if only for a little while. Meanwhile, Mary and the Nipper soldier on while Watson huffs, puffs, worries, bets on the ponies and runs the odd errand for Holmes. Emily keeps bringing in new clients, some of whom are legitimate and Neville St. Clair seems to have gone straight. At least, he is no longer begging for a living, but what he is really doing is more a mystery than ever.

There is really no point in detailing the events, because I’m sure they will manage to change again before you see this review. Of course, the character set remains the same, or changes as the spirit(s?) move them. Scorecards are NOT provided so readers must make up their own lists. Please note that the Circus is not REALLY the best place to eliminate criminal pursuers and there IS a cave on Long Island, or there was.”

A Study in Crimson is available from all good bookstores worldwide including Amazon, also on the Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, and iBooks (iPad/iPhone).


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Interview with Molly Carr, author of the female Sherlock Holmes series and the Watson biography In Search of Dr Watson

The Sign of FearThere are few Holmes writers that are as immersed in the life of Dr.Watson than Molly Carr. A fan for most of her life she even has a distinction in Watsonian studies. Her writing career started with the first two adventures in the “Female Sherlock Holmes” series which sees Mrs.Watson and her side-kick Emily Fanshaw take centre stage running a detective agency of their own.

‘The Sign of Fear’ was extremely well received amongst Sherlockians and the followup ‘A Study In Crimson’ had the fans chuckling again at the ladies exploits. A brief interlude in the Watson and Fanshaw series saw Molly release what many regard as her seminal work ‘In Search of Dr.Watson’ – a very comprehensive biography of Watson that appealed to fans of Holmes and the Victorian era alike. Molly’s writing style is easy to jump into, quirky and fun. The level of canonical detail is excellent which comes from her fanatical obsession with Watson.

In a very rare interview Molly gives us, as is her style, short sharp answers to our questions – after all, she tells us, the next in the Watson and Fanshaw series isn’t going to write itself…….

What was the main inspiration for the book?

Serendipity. the art of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident! Word coined by Horace Walpole (1717-1797) from a fairy story ‘ The Princes of Serendip’ (Ceylon, now Shri Lanka).

Which is your favourite character and aspect of the book?

Emily Fanshaw. I particularly enjoy the sharp exchanges between the two women.

Of all the Holmes stories which is your favourite and why?

The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton, because Holmes actually shows some wit when he says Lestrade’s description of a man seen escaping  from the house could almost fit Watson. He knows, and so do we, that it IS Watson.

When did you first become interested in Sherlock Holmes?

From the age of about ten. And I hope you’ll be very gallant if you are trying to work out how long ago that was!

If you could meet Arthur Conan Doyle on his forthcoming birthday, what would you ask him?

Were you ever in Beverley Minster? I’m sure he was, and this might clinch it. Although, for reasons apparent in “The Sign of Fear”, he may prefer not to answer the question.

What are you reading at the moment?

Piccadilly Jim by PG Wodehouse. Also reading ‘Foucault’s Pendulum’ by Umberto Eco (about writers and publishing. A book within a book) and ‘A Fine Balance’ by the Indian writer Rohinton Mistry. This was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and according to the Spectator is “extraordinarily funny”.

How do you view the new adaptations of Holmes – the BBC’s Sherlock and the Guy Richie directed movies?

Noisy, confusing, but an up-to-date take on what could become a tired old theme – although you wouldn’t think so from all the Holmes books coming out of the MX stable at present.

Which other modern day Holmes writer do you most enjoy?

The Curious Case of 221B by Partha Basu.

The Sign of Fear, A Study in Crimson and In Search of Dr. Watson are all available from good bookstores in over a dozen countries, like Amazon USA, and in many formats such as Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books and on iBooks (iPad/iPhone).


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