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Sherlock Holmes Society of London reviews The Case of The Grave Accusation

When it comes to reviews, every Holmes author and historian waits anxiously for the edition of The District Messenger where their book is reviewed by the world’s leading Holmes society. It’s good news for the recent pastiche, and true story, The Case of the Grave Accusation with a resounding thumbs up for the new book.

“Just out from MX Publishing at £7.99 is The Case of the Grave Accusation, a novel by Dicky Neely edited by Paul R Spiring, in which Holmes and Watson investigate certain bizarre allegations made against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – that he stole the narrative of his most famous book from his friend Fletcher Robinson, that he had an affair with Robinson’s wife, and that he murdered Robinson in order to conceal the scandal.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because those charges have been made! Richard Belzer said,

‘If you tell a lie that’s big enough, and you tell it often enough, people will believe you are telling the truth, even when what you are saying is total crap.’

I hope Mr Neely’s book nails the nonsense for good.”

Strong praise from the Society and rightly so. This book is a an important final milestone in the long saga that started with terrible accusations against our beloved Arthur Conan Doyle. Allegations that were damaging and hurtful to both his, and Bertram Fletcher Robinson’s memories.

Without spoiling the plotline, this book has two halves – the first part is a fun pastiche take on the murder scandal, and the second a collection of supporting real life information that puts the final nails in the coffin of the real-life accusations. A very fascinating collaboration between a surfing cartoonist (Dicky Neely, the pastiche) and learned lecturer (Paul R Spiring, the history part).

The Case of The Grave Accusation is available from all good bookstores like Amazon, via Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, iBooks (iPad/iPhone) and several other formats.

 

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Review of The Lost Stories of Sherlock Holmes from Tony Reynolds, by An Ill-dressed Vagabond

Philip K Jones (aka The Ill Dressed Vagabond ) is one of the leading Holmes reviewers in the USA. Here is his recent review of ‘The Lost Stories of Sherlock Holmes’ by Tony Reynolds.

This is the first Sherlockian writing I have found by this author. It is a collection of eight short novellas, each set up similarly to the Canonical tales. Other than the language, which seems a bit modern, these tales read a lot like their originals.

`The Giant Rat of Sumatra” takes place in London and migrates from a tale of murder to a story of a curiosity and then to a true tragedy. The explanation offered is plausible and the events are reasonable. “The Adventure of the Gypsy Girl” reads very well. Holmes always seems a step ahead of the reader and gives his client what she asks for. It is quite well executed and seems to unfold naturally.

“The Adventure of the Amazon Explorer” recalls a couple of the Canonical tales and includes several excellent deductions by Holmes. Again, Holmes satisfies his client’s needs, if not those of the Metropolitan Police. “The Adventure of the Medium” starts out as if it is another fraud debunking as in the earlier “Gypsy Girl” tale. It ends up as a tale of Holmes’ compassion and understanding.

“The Adventure of the Russian Anarchist” has Holmes requested by a high Government Official to help prevent the assassination of a visiting diplomat. Holmes manages to do so, despite the advice and help provided by his client and by Inspector Lestrade. “The Adventure of the Eminent Collector” involves Holmes in an inexplicable robbery. The stolen object and the pains taken simply do not match, so Holmes finds the explanation.

“The Adventure of the Pawnbroker’s Wife leads Holmes and Watson into an increasingly dark and involved situation. Their client’s suspicions seem to be confirmed and then magnified as the case progresses. “The Mystery of the Missing Rubies” introduces us to a family of Holmes relatives. Sherlock and Watson travel to Yorkshire to spend the Christmas holidays with some Holmes cousins and Mycroft joins the party. This is not a Mycroft I recognize, but the crime is explained so a good holiday can be had by all.

The individual stories are all reasonably framed and well-written. I found only a handful of errors and disliked only the characterization of Mycroft in the final tale. All were enjoyable, moderately complex and believable. Perhaps they are not Canonical, but they make a very nice substitute.

The Lost Stories of Sherlock Holmes are available from all good bookstores worldwide, on Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books and iBooks (iPad/iPhone).

 

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Interview with Dr Dan Andriacco author of Baker Street Beat a collection of Sherlock Holmes articles, essays and radio plays

Dan Andriacco, D.Min., of Cincinnati, OH, USA, is a former journalist and mystery fiction reviewer. His book Baker Street Beat: An Eclectic Collection of Sherlockian Scribblings is a delightful grab bag of essays, short stories and radio plays, plus a helpful annotated bibliography.  We cornered him in his library (don’t call it a collection) of Sherlock Holmes books to answer a few questions.

What was the main inspiration for the book?

I’m not sure, but it may have been our trip to the Reichenbach Falls in 2008. It was certainly around that time that I began to pull together various things I had written about The Master over the years, as well as a new essay on the Reichenbach pilgrimage and a nostalgic piece about my long acquaintance with Sherlock Holmes and his world.

Which is your favourite aspect of the book?

The variety of genres represented.

What is your favourite piece from the collection?

I loved the two new essays that I mentioned above, but I’m proudest of my radio play “The Wrong Cab.” I think the premise was original, the Holmes dialogue sounds right to my ear, and the mystery plot was rather good. All in all, there’s a lot going on in that half-hour play.

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

I usually say The Red-Headed League or The Hound of the Baskervilles, but that’s not quite true. It would be more accurate to say those are my favorite Holmes mysteries. My favorite Holmes story is His Last Bow. I love the sense of Holmes acting for king and country and Watson coming in at the end as the old trouper. The friendship that is so evident between the two men and the wonderful monologue that ends the story – beginning with, “Good old Watson! You are the one fixed point in a changing age” – is just magic. I’m also very fond of The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton in which Watson is once again a trouper and there’s another wonderful ending.

Which of Conan Doyle’s characters is your favourite?

Sherlock Holmes! But, really, the Holmes stories are replete with memorable characters. I’m sure I’m not the only reader with a soft spot for John H Watson, M.D., who Loren D. Estleman affectionately called Knight of the Battered Tin Dispatch-Box.  And let’s not forget Mycroft, Moriarty, Moran, Milverton – and those are just the ones who names begin with the letter M!

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

Put me in the minority of Sherlockians who didn’t care for the Guy Rtchie film at all. To me the pacing was off so that it managed to be somehow both boring and frenetic – stretches of inaction followed by camera shots that were so fast my brain couldn’t process them. More importantly, it wasn’t true to the characters of Holmes and Watson. Perhaps surprisingly, I did enjoy and admire the BBC production. It seemed to me faithful to the characters as they would be if they had arrived on the scene today instead of in the 19th Century.

Which other modern day Holmes writer do you most enjoy?

Although I wrote a pastiche and won an award for it, I like Sherlock Holmes stories that are not pastiches – that is, they are not written from Watson’s point of view and in imitation of the original author’s style. And I’ve also been fascinated to image Holmes’s post-Baker Street years, about which we know so little. Those being my preferences, my offbeat answer to your question is Michael Chabron in his beautiful little book The Final Solution. It takes place in World War II and Sherlock Holmes is 89 years old. Both times I read it I found myself thinking, “Yes, that’s what he might be like at that age.”

When did you first become interested in Sherlock Holmes?

That’s the subject of the first essay in Baker Street Beat, so I don’t want to say too much except that it happened about a half-century ago. Maybe the most important thing is that my mental image of Sherlock Holmes was formed by the original stories and by the Sidney Paget illustrations before I ever saw an actor in the role. I’m grateful for that.

What are you reading at the moment?

Right now I’m reading Chronicles of Solar Pons, the gift of a dear friend, and a book about T.S. Eliot. I just finished reading a mystery novel I myself wrote nearly 20 years ago and then forgot about. Before that I read The Sherlockian, which my wife and I enjoyed. I also liked Resurrection Day, an alternative-history thriller I read recently about a world in which the Cuban Missile Crisis triggered a nuclear war.

What’s the best aspect of being a Holmes author?

It’s fun! In fiction writing, I especially like creating characters and giving them appropriate names. When writing about another author’s characters there’s an interesting challenge in trying to make them true to the original. I think that’s more craft than art, but it’s still quite satisfying if you think you’ve pulled it off.

What else are you working on at the moment?

I’m updating that old novel of mine that I mentioned earlier. It has a strong Sherlockian connection that I think would be fun for the readers of Baker Street Beat. And reading it with the objectivity of years, I think it’s pretty good. But it was written before cell phones were common and DVD players were invented. Everyday life has changed a lot in two decades and the revised manuscript will reflect that. I also have in mind a historical mystery set in 1921 featuring a retired beekeeper and a historical personage that, so far as I know, has never before appeared in a Sherlock Holmes story. Stay tuned. Of course, before I forget I am busy writing my blog ‘Baker Street Beat’ – feel free to drop by and comment.

Baker Street Beat is available from all good bookstores worldwide including Amazon, on Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, and iBooks (iPad/iPhone).

 

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Interview with Kieran McMullen, author of Watson’s Afghan Adventure, a Sherlock Holmes Novel

Watson's Afghan AdventureNew York city born Kieran McMullen is a veteran of both the Korean DMZ and Desert Storm, which gives you a clue as to the level of military detail there is in his debut Holmes novel – Watson’s Afghan Adventure. This attention to detail has drawn admirers from across the Sherlockian fan base around the world.

His blog is one of the most popular on Watson on the web – with his recent series entitled ‘The Many Watsons’ has elicited many positive comments. We found Kieran busy preparing for another military re-enactment for an interview.

What was the main inspiration for the book?

Having been a career soldier, a student of military history and a lifelong Holmes fan, I often wondered what Watson’s experience had been in the service. I and many of my friends had a good handle on many of Queen Victoria’s “little wars” but the 2d Afghan was not one of them. So why not learn about the war and see what would have been an experience that helped form Watson’s later life and character?

Which is your favourite character/aspect of the book?

Of course, my favorite character is Watson, himself. But what really fascinates me are the parallels to what we are caught in today. There seems to be no change in local tribal attitudes from the time of Watson’s war to the issues my son deals with as a soldier in Afghanistan today. It’s dealing with the tribal issues that helps Watson see what is important in life.

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

Can there be any question that it has to be The Hound of the Baskervilles? It exemplifies both the intellect of Holmes and the intelligence and can-do attitude of Watson. It’s unfortunate that to date it has (even after 28 tries) never really been adequately moved to film.

When did you first become interested in Sherlock Holmes?

My father taught English and Russian literature at St. John’s University in New York. When I was about 8 years old he handed me a book of the canon and “suggested” that I read it over the summer. I was hooked from then on. I couldn’t get enough of the great detective or the good doctor. I must say that I identified more with Watson. I knew I wasn’t the smart guy in the crowd, but if I worked hard I could at least be of assistance to others.

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

Actually, I would like to discuss things that have nothing to do with Holmes. I would like to ask him about his relationship with Sir Roger Casement and what exactly changed his mind from being opposed to Home Rule for Ireland to being in favor of it. This is especially curious considering his attitude during the Boer Wars.

What are you reading at the moment?

At the moment I’m reading “The Irish Rebellion of 1916” by Joy. I’ve always been interested in Irish history and especially the era from the Rising of ’98 through the Civil War. The entire period impacted US and Canadian history to an extent that few people appreciate.

What’s the best aspect of being a Holmes author?

I would have to say that the best aspect is that Holmes is a subject that everyone is familiar with. You can talk about Holmes and Watson and people know exactly who the characters are so there is immediate association. I have to admit that I have been dumbfounded by the number of people who have asked me if Holmes and Watson were real.

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

I have to say that I really like the new BBC series. They have really updated the characters without losing the essence. A really wonder job! I also think the new Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey and Jude Law is wonderful. They really nail Watson as the intelligent man of action. Holmes may be a bit too seedy but it’s so well played overall you can overlook that.

Which other modern day Holmes writer do you most enjoy?

Let’s see, there are only about a thousand to choose from, aren’t there? Of course you can’t go wrong with David Stuart Davies, Michael Hardwick or Frank Thomas.

You can follow Kieran on his blog, Dr Watson, Sherlock Holmes and Watson’s Time In Afghanistan.

Watson’s Afghan Adventure is available from bookstores worldwide including Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, iBooks (iPad) and various other formats.

 

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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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Interview with Tracy Revels, bestselling author of Shadowfall, a dark novel about Sherlock Holmes

Shadowfall

Shadowfall

A history professor at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Tracy Revels has been a Sherlock Holmes fan since 5th grade.  She teaches a class on Sherlock Holmes called “The Game’s Afoot!” along with more conventional courses in Civil War and women’s history.  Shadowfall is her first novel and already a bestseller amongst Holmes fans since its launch last month.

What was the main inspiration for the book?
I’ve loved the Sherlock Holmes canon since I was a child.  I also enjoy dark, spooky, supernatural fiction.  As a historian, I naturally read a lot of history too.  This work was my attempt to combine all my interests into one.  It was also inspired by a lot of the “alternative” pastiches that I’ve read over the years, which really stretch the character of Holmes and show how, as an ideal, he can travel through time and space.

Which is your favorite character/aspect of the book?
I thoroughly enjoyed playing in a new Sherlockian sandbox, putting Holmes into a world that was sinister and creepy, and giving Holmes a dark side as well.  I also enjoyed doing the research for the various characters.  I tried to base as many of my characters as possible on either historical people or obscure legends.  I found connecting Holmes to actual people and mythologies to be a pretty wild ride.

Of all the Holmes stories which is your favorite and why?
“The Adventure of the Speckled Band,” for two reasons.  It was the first story I ever read (when I was about 10 years old) and I love watching students react to it.  One of my students came in, slammed her book down, and yelled “I hate you!  You made me read that snake story and now I can’t sleep!”

If you could meet Arthur Conan Doyle on his forthcoming birthday, what would you ask him?
What was the real reason Holmes asked for Irene Adler’s picture at the end of “A Scandal in Bohemia”?

What’s the best aspect of being a Holmes author?
It’s just so much fun to write about Holmes.  The added benefit is that writing about Holmes always leads to interactions with Sherlockians.  The Survivors of the Gloria Scott are some of the finest people on the planet—and  I’ve been privileged to be a member of this Greenville, South Carolina scion for a decade.  Recently I attended the Gathering of Southern Sherlockians in Chattanooga, which gave me the chance to meet fellow enthusiasts from Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  I’d say the combination of these interactions—with Holmes on the page and friends of Holmes in person—is definitely the best part of being a Holmes author.

How do you view the new adaptations of Holmes – the BBC’s Sherlock and the Guy Richie directed movies?
I teach a college class that focuses on the Sherlock Holmes stories, so when the movie came out my Facebook page lit up as all my former students asked “What did you think of the movie?”  For about a month, that was the sole subject of conversation because everyone at Wofford College knows that I love Holmes.  I found the movie to be entertaining and visually amazing.  I’m looking forward to the sequel.  BUT—he’s not MY Holmes.  I couldn’t really see him as the Holmes that I have in my head.  As my students would say, Robert Downey Jr. played Holmes as a “hot mess” and that’s not my concept of the character.  But that’s what’s so great about Sherlock Holmes; everyone sees him in a different light, and every generation re-interprets him.  So I can appreciate an interpretation (in this case, Guy Ritchie’s) without having to commit to it as my own.

On the other hand, I loved the BBC series SHERLOCK.  What a fantastic update and a great way to bring Holmes to young people.  I plan to use the first episode in my class.  I had a few quibbles (especially with the second episode, which I thought was needlessly melodramatic) but overall I was so excited by it.  I can’t wait for the next season.

Which other modern day Holmes writer do you most enjoy?
Nicholas Meyer (The Seven Percent Solution, The West End Horror) is my all-time favorite.  And I thoroughly enjoy pastiche collections, because they give me a chance to see many different authors at work.  The collection Sherlock Holmes Through Time and Space greatly influenced me.  I’m working my way through the a history and pastiche collection and I’m very impressed by The Lost Stories of Sherlock Holmes (for fiction) and the works of Alistair Duncan, Paul R. Spiring, and Brian W. Pugh for history.

When you’re not writing Sherlock Holmes, what are you doing?
Probably teaching class.  I also work on projects that deal with Florida history and have published a book on Florida’s women during the Civil War and one on the history of Florida tourism.  I enjoy movies and music plus I’m a huge Doctor Who fan.

Any plans for a follow-up to Shadowfall?
Have you ever met an author who wasn’t writing a sequel?  I have a title, some ideas, and a notebook.  I’m ready to go to work……..

Shadowfall is available in paperback from all good bookstores including Amazon, in Amazon Kindle, Kobo and iBook (ipad/phone) format. You can follow Tracy Revels Blog for her latest newst.

 

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“Exciting, and full of authentic military detail” – Sherlock Holmes Society of London reviews Watson’s Afghan Adventure

Watson's Afghan Adventure

Watson's Afghan Adventure

Kieran McMullen was a real find for us as a Sherlock Holmes publisher. A great writing style combined with excellent levels of detail on military history and military techniques. His first pastiche outing ‘Watson’s Afghan Adventure‘ published in January goes from strength to strength. Rave reviews from around the world now include the Sherlock Holmes Society of London.

“Fewer people have considered the early life of John H Watson in any depth. Kieran McMullen, author of Watson’s Afghan Adventure is a former professional soldier and a specialist in American military history – an appropriate person to tell of Watson’s experiences as an army surgeon. A confrontation with the CO leads to his being, as he said later, removed from the Fighting Fifth and sent to join the Berkshires, who have an appointment at Maiwand. But Watson and a couple of fellow-officers have set themselves additional task: to search for the lost treasure of the Armenian Catholic Church. Catholicism is essential to the Watson of Mr McMullen’s story, though Conan Doyle’s Watson gives no indication of any particular religious faith. The novel could do with better proof-reading, but it’s exciting, and full of authentic military detail.”

One of the world’s leading Holmes writers and historians Alistair Duncan recently commented on his Sherlokian Blog;

“The author is a former US Army officer and his military background and knowledge of the Afghan campaign shine through in the rich detail that he offers us in the story”.

Kieran’s own blog is becoming very popular – especially his recent series of articles on the different actors that have played Dr.Watson.

Watson’s Afghan Adventure is available from all good bookstores and on Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, iBooks (iPad and iPhone) and other formats.

 

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The Deerstalkers of Welshpool review ‘A Study In Crimson’ – the further adventures of Mrs.Watson (Sherlock Holmes)

A Study In Crimson

A Study In Crimson

A Study in Crimson is the second adventure of Mrs. Watson and Emily Fanshaw. Already dubbed ‘The Female Sherlock Holmes’ Molly Carr’s character is proving very popular with Holmes fans. Here is the review from the leading Sherlockian Group in Wales – The Deerstalkers of Welshpool.

“Molly Carr has produced another book about her two female detectives, mutated from minor characters in the Holmes stories. I think it helps if you have read the first book [The Sign of Fear], as that explains the strange hypothesis that Watson was a fake.

The book is more a series of short adventures than a novel. These show imagination, and a wicked sense of humour. Most of the results of the investigations are accidental, rather than being due to the skill of the offbeat female detectives.

The locations range from New York to Baden Baden and Geneva, in addition to London and Scotland, and are nicely drawn. As before, Molly uses characters from the Sherlock Holmes – and other – detective stories to people the adventures.”

A Study In Crimson is available from all good bookstores worldwide including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, and in a variety of formats including Kindle, Kobo and iBooks for the iPad.

 

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Book Review – The Official Papers into the Matter Known as ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ – Sherlock Holmes Society of London

As a retired detective with the Metropolitan Police Keiron Freeburn has excellent experience which he has used to great effect with a very unusual take on The Hound of The Baskervilles. As with several reviews of this fascinating book the societies have been tough on the small mistakes, but another resounding thumbs up for a very unusual and memorable Holmes pastiche.

“What we have here, apparently, are facsimiles of the original case files from both Scotland Yard and Devon County Constabulary. In fact this collection of witness statements, medical reports, and police reports is the work of a former member of the Metropolitan Police CID, now living in Devon. The project is very nicely done, providing a fresh and completely valid view of the investigation. In particular it’s good to know how the two police forces regarded the summoning of a Scotland Yard man without reference to the Devon Constabulary!

There are some careless errors (the post-mortem report on Sir Charles Baskerville has Sir Henry’s name on the first page; Mrs Lyons is called “Miss Lyons” throughout; Selden’s name changes from Arthur to Albert; Barrymore once refers to his wife as his sister). Such matters are easily attended to, though. A corrected edition of this fascinating and very worthwhile new look at a familiar classic will be something to treasure.”

The book is available from all good bookstores around the world – as the whole point of the book is the Victorian fonts the book is only available in printed format [so no Kindle or iPad versions].

In the USA the book is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

In the UK the book is available from Amazon, Book Depository [free worldwide delivery], and Waterstones.

Official Papers into the matter of The Hound of The Baskervilles

Official Papers into the matter of The Hound of The Baskervilles

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2011 in Book Reviews

 

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