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Philip K Jones reviews Mystery at St. Andrews

“This is the first Sherlockian fiction by Mr. Lawler.  It is a mystery novel that takes place during “The Great Hiatus” and it stars Colonel Sebastian Moran and Irene Adler Norton along with an unexpected visit by Dr. Watson.

This book is dedicated to Golf, and it devotes a great deal of time to the “Royal and Ancient” course at St. Andrews.  The database lists more than twenty tales involving golf, most of them from two books by golfer Robert D. (Bob) Jones with an anthology of eighteen short stories (Sherlock Holmes, the Golfer) and a novel (Sherlock Holmes Saved Golf).  These two books have been the literary stars of Sherlockian golfers up until now, but I expect their luster has faded with publication of the present volume.

This book is a carefully constructed and entertaining mystery, although Sherlockians will know the outcome once they have placed the characters and timing, it remains fascinating to find out how the know results will occur.  Even with a known outcome, the mystery that unfolds is compelling and intriguing.  The author also manages to interlard the mystery with a good deal of narrative about golfing on the course at St. Andrews.  I did not look forward to reading it as my interest in golf was killed by too many fruitless games of miniature golf in my teens.  The book was a pleasant surprise for a defiant non-golfer.  The author’s explanations and descriptions of the play on the course were amusing and interesting.  He certainly loves the sport and manages to convey his fascination with the game in a most effective fashion.

The familiar characters in the book are all depicted very much as they appear in the Canonical tales.  Irene is grace and beauty personified and Colonel Moran is charming with barely suppressed violence hidden behind a genial manner.  Watson remains the epitome of an English gentleman, both in manner and in actions.  He is, of course, somewhat smarter than he portrays himself in his tales, but Sherlockians all know that anyway.

The story is well-told and well thought-out and the characters are familiar and very well presented.  We can feel comfortable with all of them and we can enjoy a delightful trip to “the Royal and Ancient” in the early 1890s with congenial old friends.  The editing was well-done and the usual Americanisms expected from Colonial writers were absent, or at least unobtrusive.  Since I am quite picky, I managed to find a few neologisms, but it is very difficult to weed out new terminology from a Century and a quarter in the future.”

Mystery at St Andrews is available from all good bookstores including Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide Book Depository . In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle,  KoboNook and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone) and it is available in Audible Audio Edition.

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New review of The Mystery of Charles Dickens by John Paulits

“A Review of a New Novel by John Paulits

The Mystery of Charles Dickens: a Tale of Mesmerism and Murder

This is, from the opening chapter to the last, a story filled with a highly satisfying mixture of tension and intrigue. The author deftly portrays the individuality of his characters and their various social backgrounds in language which gives a sense of authenticity to his tale. From the magnificence of a Genoese palace to the ghastly sordidness of an opium den, Paulits takes his readers across a social gulf separating the ultimate in privilege to the depths of wretchedness. While staying in Genoa, tension builds between Dickens and his wife Catherine as he doggedly pursues his goal of freeing Augusta, the beautiful young wife of Emile de la Rue, from her facial spasms and terrifying dreams. Using his skill in mesmerism, Dickens begins to treat Augusta, and comes to realise that she retains some terrible secret from long ago, buried deep within her mind. Dickens eventually extracts the reason for her nightmarish dreams but realises that he cannot reveal the truth of what he has discovered. He and his family return to England. Over a period of time letters from the de la Rues gradually fade away. Eventually Dickens hears of Augusta’s death, an event which inspires him a few years later to reshape the ending of his final novel. Tension increases dramatically in Dickens’s last weeks. Although his health is deteriorating rapidly, he is determined to reveal the culprit responsible for Augusta’s recurrent nightmares in the last issue of his serialised novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood. But the man he is going to unmask now realises what Dickens plans to do. He is equally determined to prevent this happening. It becomes a race against time for both of them.  The Mystery of Charles Dickens allows readers to witness Dickens himself ultimately becoming involved in a life and death situation – something that modern day Dickensians will be keen to follow up!”

Margaret Mandeno

The Mystery of Charles Dickens is available from all good bookstores worldwide including in the USA  AmazonBarnes and Noble, in the UK Amazon and Waterstones and Book Depository (free worldwide delivery) and in electronic formats including Kindle , iTunes (iPad/iPhone), Kobo and Nook.

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Posted by on March 26, 2013 in Book Reviews

 

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Philip K. Jones reviews Mark of the Baskerville Hound by Wilfred Huettel

“This author is new to Sherlockian fiction, with his only previous book a history of U-Boat warfare in the Gulf of Mexico.  For a first effort at Sherlockian fiction, or any fiction, for that matter, this book is remarkable.  The events recounted take place in the 1980s and the story is hard to define.  It is a mystery and a horror story and a romance, all combined.  It has supernatural elements if one chooses to read it that way, yet it is also intimately involved in psychology and, of all things, Theology.  Perhaps I can explain my viewpoint best by recalling a lesson in Theology passed to me long ago.  “The God of Christians is a God of Infinite Love.”  The point of this lesson was that damnation is not a process enforced on a person by God, but rather it is a process that the person chooses, freely, over the chance to love.

There are many reasons that people choose not to love, mostly from fear of rejection or of revealing oneself to the intimate knowledge of another, but all have their roots in pride.  People choose pride over love and lose what they most desire, a chance to give and to receive love.  This book presents a series of characters who are given chances to love and to place the well-being and happiness of others before their own.  This book tells us their stories, although that is not what it looks like until well along in the tale.

The protagonist is a retired New York policeman who was injured in line of duty.  As a retirement hobby, he has taken up Sherlockian inquiry and has specialized in “The Hound of the Baskervilles.”  After some years of writing and corresponding, he is invited to be a guest lecturer in Literature at Oxford with expenses paid and a small stipend.  In the depths of winter, a power failure at the University disrupts classes and living accommodations, so our hero elects to visit Dartmoor during this enforced vacation.  Time spent in a small country inn introduces other guests and local problems and the moors exercise their own magic.

The story begins with our hero trying to recover from his experiences on the moors and to put his life back together after a complex experience.  His nightmares and his increasing rejection of his surroundings are pushing him into madness and the process of curing him is one of teaching him to love, first himself, and then others.

The book is well-edited, thoughtful and moving.  Americanisms are appropriate to the narrator and the setting and viewpoint are intrinsically Sherlockian.  It contains something for every taste, action, mystery, horror, supernatural events and romance.”

Mark of The Baskerville Hound is available from all good bookstores including in the USA AmazonBarnes and Noble and Classic Specialities, in the UK AmazonWaterstones,  and for everywhere else Book Depository who offer free worldwide delivery. In ebook format there is KindleNookiPad and Kobo.

 

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Samuel Williams was a proud winner at the 2012 Southern California Book Festival this month

Samuel Williams was a proud winner at the 2012 Southern California Book Festival this month. His Sherlock Holmes novel – Anomalous – received the ‘Honorable Mention’ award in the hotly contested General Fiction category.

Anomalous – The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is available from bookstores including in the USA Barnes and Noble and Amazon, in the UK WaterstonesAmazon and Book Depository (free worldwide delivery) and in electronic formats – iTunes (iPad), KindleNook and Kobo.

 
 

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