Archie Goodwin is one of my top five favorite men of mystery, if you will. I don't actually remember how I stumbled upon the Nero Wolfe series, just tArchie Goodwin is one of my top five favorite men of mystery, if you will. I don't actually remember how I stumbled upon the Nero Wolfe series, just that someone put the second of Rex Stout's novels in my hands (The League of Frightened Men) when I was a teenager and told me to read. So read I did, and I fell in love in with Fritz and Wolfe and Archie. But mostly Archie.
Archie Meets Nero Wolfe opens with Archie, fresh from Ohio, working a job as a night watchman on the docks. He's nineteen and looking for his big opportunity in the city - and winds up killing two men in self defense. He's let go from the watchman position, but impresses P.I. Del Bascom and gets taken on in the private detective's office. Archie's big opportunity comes with the Big Case. Tommie Williamson, son of a very wealthy businessman, is kidnapped and his father taps Nero Wolfe to take the case. Wolfe calls in the best detectives he knows, including Bascom who brings Archie to the table. The race is on to find the boy and find the kidnappers and to secure Archie's place in literary history.
Madeline Miller's writing is absolutely stunning. The way she crafts her words brings you to be standing alongside her characters, almost perfectly viMadeline Miller's writing is absolutely stunning. The way she crafts her words brings you to be standing alongside her characters, almost perfectly visualizing what the age of the Greek gods was like. From the castles to the mountains to the wall of Troy, Miller paints a most incredible picture. My love of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey drew to read this story and it was a good read. You very much feel for Patroclus as he by turns stumbles and is thrown into situations that would make most give up or at least weep. I thought his characterization was excellent. It would have been nice to spend a little more time with him as he explores his interest in medicine later on.
Thetis, Achilles' mother, drove me a little crazy. She just pops up out of nowhere every single time she appears, all snarly and toothy and after awhile I felt like saying, "Okay, okay! She hates everything, especially Patroclus. We get it. Sheesh."
I only gave it three stars because of Thetis and because the last forty pages (maybe not even that many) really threw me off. The descriptive language was still lovely, but for me the tone change didn't have the emotional impact I think Miller was going for. It just left me wishing I could have ended with the feeling I had before a certain event. If you wish to know which event, here's a spoiler: (view spoiler)[ Specifically, after Patroclus has died but the reader is with Achilles for two or so paragraphs before going back to Patroclus, but as a spirit and Miller goes for the ghost effect. I did appreciate Patroclus and Thetis having their begrudging goodbyes and what she does for him, but Ghost Patroclus didn't do it for me. (hide spoiler)]
Miller's writing was beautiful and I thought she did excellent characterizations for the most part. If you like Greek mythology, the Iliad/Odyssey, or the Patroclus/Achilles story, you'll probably enjoy The Song of Achilles. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
In the country, Sherlock finds his relatives are a bit odd and there's an evil old woman heading the staff of servants. Mysterious deaths occur both iIn the country, Sherlock finds his relatives are a bit odd and there's an evil old woman heading the staff of servants. Mysterious deaths occur both in the village and on the Holmes property, and in order to fit the puzzle pieces together, Sherlock will need the assistance of a new found friend and a newly acquired mentor. He might even have a conversation with a girl, if he's lucky.
When I first finished reading Death Cloud, I gave it three out of five stars. It's definitely an enjoyable romp. Sherlock is fourteen in this story, and his age and the writing style gear it towards middle/tween readers more than older YA, which is what I had anticipated when I picked up the title. However, there's a fair share of violence in the story and relatively graphic imagery, which may overwhelm a more squeamish tween reader. There are several Americanisms, and the writing can sometimes lean towards too young, at least for my reading tastes. My friend and co-worker Amy suggested that any Americanisms might have been changes made by the publisher, such as they did with the Harry Potter series. She may well be correct, as the first three or four books in this series are already out in the UK, and the second one is just being released in the states this month. The title of the second book in this series has also been changed for American audiences.
If this is true, publishers, to you I say jog on. Give me the Britishness.
Also three stars for Sherlock not being quite...Sherlock enough. I understand that this is an exploration of his formative days, but he was a little too removed from the final Holmes that we see for me to buy it. He started coming into it near the end, with some of the arrogance he displays, but over all he just wasn't Sherlock enough for me.
Of course, I may be biased towards the amazing sociopath version of Holmes portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock right now.
Also, I will tell you that this series is trying very much to not contradict anything in the actual cannon of Doyle's Holmes. This means that there's no Watson in this story, and can't be (at least directly) in any of the books to come as Holmes and Watson don't meet until Stamford introduces them in A Study in Scarlet. This, for me, is sad, because I love Watson possibly more than I love Holmes. So less a star for that.
Also, there's a girl. Sherlock's mentor, who is an awesome character I have to say, has a teenage daughter named Virginia in whom Sherlock forms an interest. Virginia in and of herself is a well written character. She's smart and spunky, and is not impressed with Sherlock's deductive skills. It isn't her character that annoys me, it's the fact that she's thrown in to be a romantic plot driver, or at least a crush for a character that will wind up only acknowledging Irene Adler as The Woman. Maybe for teens reading this who haven't read cannon that won't be a deal. It will be interesting to see how Lane develops this in further volumes. I don't know if Virginia was written as to attract female readers to the series, or to be the token pretty girl for the male readers. At least she's got personality, I have to give Lane that much.
At any rate, after a day or two of chewing on it, I decided to up it to four stars. The plot is very well done and the villain is pretty twisty. I do like me a twisty villain. Clearly set up as a precursor to the future Moriarty role, Lane's antagonist is sufficiently sadistic and rather cunning. The overall "evil plan" might be a little far fetched, but the action and adventure carry it along well enough to go with it.
Points for overall action and adventure, too. Sherlock doesn't back down from a fight, even when he should, which leads to some amusing and nail biting encounters.
Mycroft gets some attention in this, which I love, and he's portrayed very well.
Andy Lane clearly did his homework, which was the final boost up to four stars for this one. There are a lot, and I do mean a lot, of nods to Doyle's cannon, from bees to boxing to a veiled reference to Holmes' future friendship with Watson. As a Doyle fangirl, I approve.
House of Silk is a truly impressive story expertly woven by Anthony Horowitz. I wasn't sure what to expect as I've never read anything by Horowitz befHouse of Silk is a truly impressive story expertly woven by Anthony Horowitz. I wasn't sure what to expect as I've never read anything by Horowitz before, but I am a fan of his work on British TV series such as Midsomer Murders and Foyle's War. It's easy to see why the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle approved this novel. Holmes purists won't find much to complain about, but if you're new to the world of Holmes it's a great book to get the true flavor of the originals. The story flows quickly, and all of the characters are very well developed perhaps to the point of occasionally overshadowing Holmes himself. Horowitz alludes to several of the original stories, and his voice/portrayal of Watson is fantastic. I'd highly recommend this to any long time fans or people wanting to read a Holmes story before the new movie comes out this month. ...more
A brief, deftly crafted foray into Sherlock Holmes' view of events that we both did and didn't see in The Beekeeper's Apprentice. It was very interestA brief, deftly crafted foray into Sherlock Holmes' view of events that we both did and didn't see in The Beekeeper's Apprentice. It was very interesting to read it from Holmes' side and see a tid-bit that Russell was entirely unaware of. A quick read and a must if you read the Russell/Holmes books, or if you've been curious as to what they're about. ...more