O Secretário Italiano
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O Secretário Italiano

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3.15 of 5 stars 3.15  ·  rating details  ·  3,134 ratings  ·  354 reviews
Although Sherlock Holmes categorically dismissed, in "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire," supernatural explanations for corporeal crimes ("This Agency stands flat-footed upon the ground, and there it must remain. ... No ghosts need apply"), one of the most popular among Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes tales is The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902), in which the fate of a...more
Paperback, 301 pages
Published 2008 by Record (first published 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dana Kujan
I loved "The Alienist," passed it around my family, so I had really high expectations for Carr's take on Holmes. I have never been so disappointed! I hated this book so much by page 50 that I started writing post-it notes to myself and slapping them on the most offensive pages.

Page 83: Why are we still on the damn train!? We've spent 50 pages sitting. On a train. I know Mycroft's a big ol' potato, but Sherlock should have to stretch his legs. And what of Watson's leg wound?

Page 94: Lord Francis?...more
Brad
The Italian Secretary is a pretty sweet piece of Sherlock Holmes apocrypha. There have been a number of attempts to write Holmes by authors other than Doyle, and those attempts have achieved varying degrees of success -- some dreadful and some impressive. Caleb Carr's attempt falls between these extremes, although it is tilted more toward the impressive end of the teeter-totter.

Carr does a fine job of capturing Holmes' rhythms and personality, and one never feels like one's reading a false Sherl...more
Jennifer Petkus
I had such high hopes for The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr. My husband surprised me with it just after I had started to renew my addiction to Holmes and had read several mentions of it at the Sherlock Holmes Social Network.

Of course, those mentions were not generally favorable, but the setting of a murder at the Royal Palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh, Scotland sounded so inviting. Here’s the basic plot: After several assassination attempts on Queen Victoria, Holmes and Watson are brought to Ho...more
Tyas
Number one, the translation caused me a headache.

The translation aside, this book is disappointing: the case might be 'sensational' and 'sadistic', but the way the case is solved did not satisfy me. I think that there are still questions left unanswered. And seriously, those ghosts are unnecessary, something like disturbing Holmes' world of logic. The ghosts would fit a Professor Challenger story, but in Italian Secretary it only boiled down to raised eyebrows (of the reader, which was me, that...more
Laura
Just arrived from Germany through Bookmooch.

A good start for a New Year reading. Having watching recently the movie with Katherine Hepburn on Mary of Scotland's life, I really appreciated the plot.
Hannah
Rating Clarification: 3.5 Stars

Pretty entertainly Holmes pastiche, although I have to admit that I found Carr's writing style somewhat convoluted and irritating. However, the story premise and plot development kept me reading on. Enjoyed the supernatural elements, and thought Carr did a good job of maintaining an authentic "voice" for Holmes, Watson and Mycroft (although Carr's Watson and Mycroft were a little too dense (aka stupid) from ACD's original portrayal of them, IMO).

All in all, a worth...more
Snowfire
Conflicted thoughts here. Short version: Style is good, Watson's authorial voice is good, general overview of the plot is good. However, using Mycroft as a character still has problems, the spiritual / ghost angle ends up being lame IMHO, and - worst of all- the last quarter of the book has too many silly things and dumb yet irrelevant plot turns. Silly in a bad way. The final confrontation is also... bah.

So... rewrite the last quarter of the book to get the same point across but with less idioc...more
Liz Nutting
As someone who used to dabble in the world of fan fiction, I've always been baffled by the resistance of some authors to fan-originated treatments of their characters. I understand the standard response: Works of literature are the author's bread and butter and to allow someone else to encroach on the same territory cheapens the original product, the way a faux Gucci bag sold on a New York City street cheapens the original Gucci brand. But I think there is a fundamental flaw in that logic, at le...more
Donna
I have only read one Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes story before, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Spotting The Italian Secretary in a secondhand bookshop, I picked it up because it was written by Caleb Carr, and I didn't really notice it was a Sherlock Holmes story until I got home.
Caleb Carr was a great choice to write a further adventure of Sherlock Holmes. His own novels The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness are about a Victorian detective too although this time in New York, and he certainly had...more
Ken
I was truly disappointed by this novel. I was looking forward to reading it on two fronts. First, as a Sherlock Holmes pastiche. Second, as an introduction to Caleb Carr. The Sherlock Holmes story fell far short and left me not likely to read anything else by Carr.

To call the novel wordy would be an understatement. It was a full third of the way through the book before we arrive at the crime scene. While I understand that a novel with an historic base will require a fair amount of back-filling t...more
Philip K.
Any author who dares to assume that his readers have an attention span that exceeds fifteen or twenty seconds has succeeded in capturing my attention no matter what the subject pursued. Caleb Carr treats English as if it is tool for the conveyance of precise information and not as if it were a bludgeon to be used to beat the reader into submission. His prose is elegant and precise, with slang terms used to emphasize characterization and to provide particular flavors and tones to conversation.

Th...more
Belinda
I picked this up in paperback at the thrift store recently (our thrift has a huge book selection and is dirt cheap). I enjoyed The Alienist a lot and I have become very interested in Caleb Carr's father recently due to his beat connections. This book is actually approved by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's estate and it's easy to see why. The style is impeccable and a real tribute to the original Sherlock Holmes stories. Carr is a historian and it shows--lots and lots of great detail and all of the char...more
May
I actually enjoyed the story of the book. It was quite entertaining.
Now, what first called my attention was the cover. I was going to buy the book even if it wasn't about Sherlock Holmes because I liked the contrast of color on the cover and I like mysteries.
I liked how, as in other new Holmes novels there is a small introduction, something as to why we're reading this now. I liked the constant references to the original stories, comparisons to the characters found there and things like that.
I...more
Nesa Sivagnanam
Architect Sir Alistair Sinclair and his foreman, Dennis McKay, have been slain in the midst of rehabilitating the medieval west tower of the Royal Palace of Holyrood--the very wing where Mary, Queen of Scots, had lived, and where David Rizzio had met his brutal, politically motivated end.

The Italian secretary of the title is David Rizzio, an actual historical figure, murdered more than 300 years before the book starts. An intimate, and perhaps more, of Mary Queen of Scots, he was stabbed at lea...more
Kayt
This book seemed to go by quite quickly. It was good--having read Carr's two other history mysteries (The Alienist and Angel of Darkness) I was confident in this book; there was not the uncertainty I sometimes feel when reading a continuing-Holmes book by an unknown author.

However, I'm not sure Carr's writing style translated completely well to a Holmes story. The case was confusing--halfway through, I had to struggle to remember what the actual problem was. The characters themselves were maybe...more
Bob
'The Italian Secretary' is the latest big-name pastiche in the world of Sherlock Holmes. Unfortunately, it is not very good.

Carr's writing style is ponderous and his sentences and paragraphs are wordy. This tale originally started out as a short story for inclusion in 'Ghosts in Baker Street' and the author turned into a seperate novel.

It was a poor decision. There is barely enough substance to make a novella, and it certainly is thin for a novel. The plot is rather simple, with Holmes' belief i...more
Travis
Carr has a good handle on Holmes, Watson and Mycroft, unfortunately the story is really uneven and doesn't so much get resolved as kind of wander to a conclusion.
The epilogue back in LOndon felt pretty weak as well.

Nice use of history and a good start, but the payoff is a letdown.
Hearing that this was originally begun as a short story for a new Holmes anthology makes sense and I think it would have worked better as a short story or novella.
Bandit
I'm a fan of Sherlock Holmes stories and I think Caleb Carr has done the story justice by maintaining the style or the originals, but not so much the essence. I couldn't help but think that this one would be much better as a short story, even a fairly long short story or a novella, but as a novel the pacing was a bit off. So it was just ok, 2 stars.
Susan
Atmospheric Sherlock Holmes mystery. I could easily picture the rooms in Holyrood Palace - Queen Mary's suite and place where her secretary was murdered (visited there years ago).

But anyway, I found this tale engrossing, atmospheric, typical Holmes/Watson and well written. Pity the author only penned one as I would have liked to read more!
Rachel Teng
It was an okey mystery, with an okey plotline. But I think something about the way the characters were written jarred me, and I could have done without the unnecessary hullaballoo about the ghosts and some such.
Lauri
I listened to this book and the reader was absolutely outstanding. Really brought the different characters to life - particularly Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and Sherlock's brother, Mycroft Holmes. A real fun read.
Maeve
Sep 06, 2007 Maeve rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: mystery readers
Just started reading this today. It's a Sherlock Holmes adventure written by Caleb Carr (he wrote the Alienist). I guess you could call it a Sherlock Holmes sequel. Seems a good, quick end-of-summer read.
Henrique Cassol
Este livro foi particularmente diferente para mim. Primeiro, por que eu o escolhi pela capa (nunca tinha experimentado a ideia de escolher um livro em um feira, julgando-o somente pela capa). Pois bem, coincidência ou não o escolhido envolvia uma nova história de Sherlock Holmes, que eu sou grande fã e que não escrito pelo seu criador Doyle. Em segundo lugar, fica claro que seria um desafio recriar o personagem emblemático e reviver as suas aventuras. E não é que ele conseguiu!! Por vezes, acabe...more
Z
Reads like an 18th century scientific treatise. Too much fancy wording for my liking.
Sherlock and Dr. Watson's characters in Mr. Carr's rendition were not that believable. I felt like Holmes' mental prowess and eccentric air was missing; giving me the feeling that he was somehow downgraded by Mr. Carr.

The same goes with the plot. Not much of a whodunnit, really, with Mr. Carr giving away everything every chance he got. Hence taking away any air of mystery to the story. And what an unbelievable...more
LuAnn
For a while this felt like good ol' Holmes and Watson, but Watson's voice was off and by the end, Holmes' clear explanation of what really was going on and how he figured it out was lacking. Mycroft on intimate terms with Queen Victoria? I don't think so! Watson hesitating so often when action was needed? Not the Watson Doyle created. Holyrood House and the murder of Mary, Queen of Scott's private secretary, David Rizzio, seemed like such a great setting and background to the case, but what was...more
Mark
Bottom line: The Italian Secretary is only OK. I delved into this book anticipating the same level of intrigue as in The Alienist, seasoned with a healthy dollop of revisionist Holmesian lore. What I got from the reading, unfortunately, was a book written to mimic the most plodding aspects of Conan Doyle's writing style. Rather than adding anything new to the genre, The Italian Secretary made a rather pedestrian attempt to make use of the "facts" of which many fans of Holmes detective fare would...more
Linda C
This book was invited by Jon Lellenberg, U.S. representative for the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle estate based on Carr's writing about Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a psychologically oriented forensic detective, in The Alienist and Angel of Darkness. In this story Holmes and Watson are called to Scotland to assist in solving two murder cases occurring at Holyroodhouse, last residence of Mary, Queen of Scots and a secondary residence of Queen Victoria when she does not stay at Balmoral. The Italian Secretary of...more
Luciana Darce
Já tinha me deparado com esse livro antes, numa lista de pastiches inspirados na obra de Conan Doyle lá no Goodreads. Só que nunca, nem em um milhão de anos, eu teria adivinhado que ele fora traduzido aqui no Brasil – não até, inesperadamente, dar de cara com ele numa prateleira de supermercado.

Descobri que supermercados são excelentes lugares para comprar livros. Nunca mais vou reclamar quando me pedirem para ajudar com a feira...

Fanfarronices minha à parte, vamos ao que interessa.

Sherlock Holm...more
Laura
Caleb Carr was commissioned by the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write a book that could be considered the official "further adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and so he set out to recreate Conan Doyle's original style in all its Victorian glory. And I think that for the most part Carr has succeeded: the language, the sentence structure, and the general "feel" of the original stories are faithfully recreated in Carr's book, and although he can't resist adding a few more gory details than Victo...more
Mike
This book takes the bronze of the three Caleb Carr's that I have read so far. I would not be terribly surprised if the next book I read by him knocks The Italian Secretary out of medal contention completely. I really enjoyed The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness and I liked the second half of this one, but the first part of this book seemed as if Carr was trying too hard to be Arthur Conan Doyle. His writing was convoluted and confusing at first and caused me to lose my focus, however as the bo...more
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Caleb Carr is an American novelist and military historian. The son of Lucien Carr, a former UPI editor and a key Beat generation figure, he was born in Manhattan and lived for much of his life on the Lower East Side. He attended Kenyon College and New York University, earning a B.A. in military and diplomatic history. He is a contributing editor of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History an...more
More about Caleb Carr...
The Alienist The Angel of Darkness (Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, #2) Killing Time The Angel of Darkness and The Alienist The Legend of Broken

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