When a maharajah decides to give England and Queen Victoria the famous Malabar Rose, a ruby of great price, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are requestWhen a maharajah decides to give England and Queen Victoria the famous Malabar Rose, a ruby of great price, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are requested to guarantee its safety. They, along with Inspector Lestrade and one of Britain's most trusted military minds, come up with a plan that should guarantee the jewel's safety. But they have miscalculated the talents and determination of the Great Salmanazar--a famous magician who makes more than rabbits appear and disappear. It's up to Mrs. Hudson to give the great detective a lesson in housekeeping details which hold the secret to the jewel's disappearance.
Mrs. Hudson & the Malabar Rose by Martin Davies is the second in this fun, light-hearted series. As long as you aren't a dyed-in-the wool Sherlockian who takes her canon seriously, you should enjoy this. Otherwise, it might give true Sherlockians fits to find the Master bested by his housekeeper. This is a nice, cozy little mystery...just right for a winter's evening. The writing is pure and clean and the story whizzes on by. It is a delight to watch Mrs. Hudson and her side-kick Flotsam (Flottie) as they track down clues such as the purple socks, the mechanical toys, and the disappearance of the man who went back inside for his umbrella (sound familiar, Sherlockians?). I recommend this solid mystery to anyone who can take a lighter side of Holmes or who is looking for a quick, fun read in the Victorian era. A solid three star outing.
This review was first posted on my blog My Reader's Block. Please request permission before reposting any portion. Thanks....more
Strange is certainly a word for it. As a pastiche of Holmsian fare, The Strange Return of Sherlock Holmes by Barry Grant is passable. Buried in this bStrange is certainly a word for it. As a pastiche of Holmsian fare, The Strange Return of Sherlock Holmes by Barry Grant is passable. Buried in this bare-faced retelling of the original meeting of Holmes and Watson--only it's "Coombes" and Wilson--are some interesting bits of story-telling. Bits would be the key word. The entire scenario regarding Holmes's appearance in the 21st Century is highly improbable, if not down-right impossible. But, okay, let's suspend our disbelief on that count. The mystery itself is fairly interesting and watching Holmes come to grips with the world he has been "reborn" into is a pretty problem indeed. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that the world's first consulting detective and arguably one of the more brilliant men of all (fictional) time can quickly come up to speed with the ways of the internet and DNA cloning.
Where Grant really falls down is in his inability to properly convey the spirit of the original stories. There are moments--brief glimmers, but they are few and far between. And he completely turned me off by using Holmes as a political platform. It does not matter to me how much in agreement I may or may not be (I am fairly a-political when it comes to spreading my views hither and yon)--I do not care to see one of the most beloved fictional characters used as Barry Grant's soap box. Please, Mr. Grant, if you want to write a political book, then by all means do so--but make sure it gets shelved properly in the non-fiction area.
Two stars out of five. Mainly for the love of Holmes and the brief glimmers of what this book could have been. Overall, a fairly disappointing read.
Frank Thomas is, according to Wikipedia, an American actor, author, and bridge-strategy expert who became fascinated with the character of Sherlock HoFrank Thomas is, according to Wikipedia, an American actor, author, and bridge-strategy expert who became fascinated with the character of Sherlock Holmes after watching William Gillette perform the part during his farewell tour. This led him to pen nine Holmes novels, including Sherlock Holmes and the Treasure Train. This is Thomas's fourth effort....and may I just say I don't think I'll be seeking out any of the others. To quote Inspector MacDonald, "...there's something about it that just doesn't sit comfortable....[T]he taste isn't right." This is a case of an American enthusiast trying way too hard to write a British story. And not just any British story, but a novel about Holmes. There are plenty of American authors who can pull this off pretty well. Thomas, unfortunately, is not one of them.
You'd think a Holmes enthusiast might actually have immersed himself in the works of Conan Doyle, the better to imitate his style. And the better to capture Watson's voice as narrator. Yeah, no. The rhythm and cadence and word choice doesn't remind me of Conan Doyle--except briefly in very spotty patches He sprinkles his work with Americanisms--often putting them in the mouth of Holmes and trying to make it okay by having Holmes say, "As our American cousins would say...." Why the heck do we need to know what the American cousins would say? It's not as if the client is American. BUT, just to remind us that this IS a British story, he also has Holmes throwing about "old chap" or "good chap" and "old fellows" like a bad English impersonator. AND, to remind us just who we're dealing with here, Watson--our jolly narrator, what ho--tells us every other page that we're reading about "the great detective," "the world's only consulting detective," "the sleuth," etc. The only time Watson isn't calling him by one of these designations is when he's calling Holmes "my intimate friend" in the most awkward way. Not just once--repeatedly. Seriously? A solid, British man of the Victorian age blatantly claiming intimacy in front of the reading public?
So, what about the story? Well, here we go...another battered tin dispatch box crammed with papers has come to light--this time found by Thomas who was in Charing Cross avoiding bombs during the Blitz. Whew. By my reckoning, Dr. Watson must have stashed about 50 boxes of case notes. This particular Holmes pastiche revolves around a Great Train Robbery...rivaling the story told by Michael Crichton ten years earlier. Oops, does that seem like a coincidence to you? Here we have a half million pounds of gold disappearing from an armored train that is bound for a meeting with French authorities and a golden trip across the Channel. The case involves sharpshooters, men of high finance, undercover agents, and cold blooded murder. Before it's all over, Watson will be kidnapped and will have earned the title "The Fastest Gun on Baker Street." And Holmes will discover how the gold could disappear before it was ever stolen. Such a fun-sounding adventure....that just doesn't quite deliver. The mystery itself is fairly decent. It has enough twists and turns at the end to keep the reader guessing. But it's just not enough to make the story successful in the Holmes tradition.
Just finished this collection of stories about Holmes--all told from the viewpoint of one of the other characters in his stories. It was very interestJust finished this collection of stories about Holmes--all told from the viewpoint of one of the other characters in his stories. It was very interesting to see Holmes through the eyes of someone other than Watson. Although, of course, any time one reads Holmes stories from outside the canon they must be taken with a grain of salt. My favorites were "The Dollmaker of Marigold Walk" (the 1st Mrs. Watson); "Call Me Wiggins" (the "chief" of the Baker Street Irregulars); "The Witch of Greenwich" (Billy, the page) and "Mrs. Hudson Reminisces." I still don't get the authors who insist on putting Mycroft in league with Moriarty. Had to suffer through another one of those...otherwise, I would have given a full four stars in Visual Bookshelf. And, of course, we had to have a few stories that showed Holmes in a less than glowing light (Dupin, Moriarty, & Col. Moran all have a chance to have their say on the Great Detective). I was a bit disappointed that none of the authors chose to write from the viewpoint of Lestrade....he only shows up in the last section, titled "The Others," and is given very little space. Three & 1/2 stars. ...more
**spoiler alert** Just as a warning: This is full of spoilers.
This is a deer in the headlights book. A watching an accident and just can't take your e**spoiler alert** Just as a warning: This is full of spoilers.
This is a deer in the headlights book. A watching an accident and just can't take your eyes off of it book. I hated it but just could not stop reading it. It sucked me in and kept me there, watching all sorts of absolutely WRONG things happening to some very beloved characters. So---I'm supposed to believe that just about everybody of importance in the Sherlock Holmes stories was in Moriarty's pay or connected to his diabolical organization in some way??? That Watson and Mrs. Hudson and MYCROFT are all on the Professor's payroll? That Moriarty OWNS 221 B Baker Street? Right. Yeah, I'm swallowing that one (or three or however many impossible things I'm supposed to believe--before or after breakfast). And, yet, I could not put the thing down. I finished it off in one afternoon. I suppose so I could have the dreadful thing done and off my hands. If you want a book you can't put down, then this may be the book for you. If you're looking for a good Holmes and Watson story that works well with what you know of the canon, not so much.
The Adventure of the Ectoplasmic Man by Daniel Stashower is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche that relates an adventure that brings together the world's greaThe Adventure of the Ectoplasmic Man by Daniel Stashower is a Sherlock Holmes pastiche that relates an adventure that brings together the world's greatest consulting detective and Harry Houdini, the world's greatest escape artist. Houdini is accused of stealing important letters that could cause trouble for the Prince of Wales. The letters were kept in room sealed tighter than the vaults of the Bank of England. Houdini was present ta the house where the letters were kept. Lestrade decides that since only a Houdini could have gotten in and out of such a room, that the escape artist must be the thief. It's up to Sherlock Holmes to prove Lestrade wrong--by discovering the real villain, someone who could do what even Houdini says is impossible.
This is a decent read, but it's not serious Holmes. Holmes is larger than his usual larger-than-life self and Watson is a bigger dolt than usual (not quite on a Nigel Bruce as Watson level, but still). That said, the adventure is fun, there's lot's of action, there's a mysterious Countess, Holmes goes in disguise, Watson gets to save his life, and Lestrade gets proven wrong, again (of course). And who knew that Holmes could fly a plane? Three stars.
This was a very quick read...finished it up early this evening. It is a nicely plotted mystery that manages to bring the atmosphere of HolmBev Hankins
This was a very quick read...finished it up early this evening. It is a nicely plotted mystery that manages to bring the atmosphere of Holmes' era to modern day San Francisco. The story revolves around a Holmes fanatic who is killed in what looks to be precisely the manner of a murder in a recently discovered "lost Sherlock Holmes story." Is the story authentic? Was the victim killed because of the manuscript or was it more personal and more ancient reasons? King does an excellent job of pulling off the story within a story and tying all the ends together. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
But the blurbs on the back of the book are a bit misleading........more
The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Whitechapel Horrors by Edward B. Hanna plays at "What If?" What if Sherlock Holmes were a real person? The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Whitechapel Horrors by Edward B. Hanna plays at "What If?" What if Sherlock Holmes were a real person? (Gasp! Who could doubt it?) And what if he had investigated the horrible murders committed by Jack the Ripper? For surely, the Great Detective would have been called in on such a notorious case.
There is no doubt that Hanna knew his Holmes. He was a long-time Holmes buff and a member of the Baker Street Irregulars. And he most definitely had done his research in Ripper lore. Though a work of fiction, the novel is meticulously footnoted. Those who are well-acquainted with the Holmes canon may say, too much footnoting--he chooses to footnote material that anyone who knows the least bit about Holmes and Watson should know--but better too much than not enough. Hanna has used the Holmes canon and the facts of the terrible murders in 1888 and blended them into a dandy little tale. And it is very interesting to follow Holmes on the track of one of the most notorious killers of all time.
Almost 300 pages long, the book flies by (I finished it in a little over the day) and I didn't want to put it down until I got to the end. Hanna gets almost everything right. Almost. I quibble with bits of his portrayal of Watson--I maintain that the doctor is too good-hearted to espouse some of the derogatory comments and prejudicial beliefs Hanna attributes to him. Yes, some of the comments about the poor and certain races living in London were true of the day--but surely Hanna could have presented those details without putting them in the mouth of the good doctor. Watson does in a lot of ways represent the stalwart British man of his time, but not in all ways.
My other quibble is the ending--or rather the lack thereof. It is very disquieting to follow Holmes throughout the story and be left hanging at the end. We aren't told who the Great Detective believes Jack the Ripper to be and we are supposed to believe that at the end of the day Holmes doesn't even know. That Holmes is no more enlightened than the police. That is not the Holmes we know.
Overall, a good tale. Hanna makes it very believable that Holmes could have investigated this case. And the blend of fact and fiction is very good. An enjoyable read worth three stars.
Synopsis: Among all the tantalizing mysteris of Sherlock Holmes, none is more famous than the great untold story of The Giant Rat of Sumatra. A tale tSynopsis: Among all the tantalizing mysteris of Sherlock Holmes, none is more famous than the great untold story of The Giant Rat of Sumatra. A tale that according to Richard L. Boyer involes a mysterious ship lying at the London docks with a terrifying beast caged in the hold; a night of fire and terror & a dead sailor who was on his way to consult with Holmes; a beautiful young woman abducted and held for ransom; and Watson captured by a madman with Holmes powerless to help. No wonder the great detective called this "a story for which the world is not yet prepared."
The story of the giant rat, which Holmes alludes to in "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire," is one which has fascinated Holmes fans for decades. Several authors have attempted to the tell the tale in both short story and novel-length versions. This is the third such that I have read. Boyer very nearly had me completely in this pastiche published in 1976. It's an interesting tale and Boyer most definitely knows his Holmes. The action is brisk and he has done a fairly good job in an attempt to mimic Doyle's style. The characters of Holmes, Watson and Lestrade are pretty solid and I was swept along, believing it all until Dr. Watson, as narrator, started throwing way too many "my dear readers" at me. Watson seemed to have suddenly turned into a female protagonist in a Victorian melodramatic novel, rather than the bluff, stalwart companion I had known and loved. And then there's the grand finale....the identity of the mastermind behind the scheme was a bit much to swallow. Putting aside his identity (which was a bit much for me in and of itself), the action seemed to put him on a par with Moriarty, not in scope--there is no large organization involved--but in range. How this character amassed the wealth that must have been necessary is beyond me.
In the end I find myself giving Boyer's effort three stars. This is a good, solid rendering of Holmes. I was interested in the mystery and enjoyed seeing how he pulled off the "giant rat." Had it not been for the "dear readers" and the final scenes, I would have unreservedly raised the rating to four stars....more
In The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Holmes, Loren D Estleman has pulled off one of the most successful Holmes pastichesIn The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Holmes, Loren D Estleman has pulled off one of the most successful Holmes pastiches to mix Holmes with other literary characters. The Wellmans' Sherlock Holmes & the War of the Worlds was decent, but disjointed. Estleman manages to blend Holmes and Watson into Stevenson's story of good and evil with great ease. And the story is a familiar one--even if one has not read Stevenson's novel, one knows what the phrase "Jekyll and Hyde" means.
In Estleman's telling of the story, Mr. Utterson consults Sherlock Holmes when he is worried about his friend Dr. Jekyll's odd bequest to the unknown Mr. Edward Hyde. Holmes barely begins to investigate Hyde's movements and what terrible hold he must have on Jekyll before Utterson calls him off the case. It isn't until the Queen herself asks Holmes to investigate the death of Sir Danvers Carew--a murder committed at the hands of Hyde--that Holmes is officially on the case. Holmes continues to be interested in the links between the evil Mr. Hyde and the highly respectable doctor.
Estleman remains faithful to the original Jekyll & Hyde story, having Holmes take the actions of Utterson in some portions and adding logical actions of his own where necessary. Estleman is also very faithful to the Doyle canon. He perfectly portrays the relationship between Holmes and Watson. And he does a very good job at writing in the Doyle style. Holmes fans and Stevenson fans alike should enjoy this story. It is not as action-packed as some Holmes pastiches, but it remains true to the Great Detective's spirit. An engaging story--and one that does not suffer at all from the reader knowing the answer to the mystery from the beginning. One might even say that it's nice to be ahead of Holmes for once. Three and a half stars....more
My latest read The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Angel of the Opera pits the world's greatest detective against the mysterious Phantom ofMy latest read The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Angel of the Opera pits the world's greatest detective against the mysterious Phantom of the Opera House in Paris. This rewrite of Gaston Leroux's classic tale of music, passion, and unrequited love brings Holmes in to delve into the true secrets that motivate the shadowy ruler of the Opera's underground. The current managers who have no way to deal with the "ghost" who steals their horse and who is blamed for the hanging death of one of their employees asks Holmes to cross the Channel and get to the bottom of their mystery. The great detective discovers that Christine Daae, a rising star in the opera world, is at the center of the mystery, but can he unravel all the threads before the Phantom destroys them all and the Opera House as well?
I will discuss this book on several levels. First, as a mystery, it's not really. I'd say that a large portion of readers will already be familiar with the basic story of the Phantom of the Opera. So, the identity of the "ghost" or Phantom is no secret. And just that fact that there is a real person behind all the mysterious goings-on will be no surprise. Fortunately--on that score--I didn't pick this up at the bookstore and read it because I thought I was getting some dramatically different brain-teasing puzzle. I got it because it was a different spin on the Phantom and on Holmes (more on him later). That being the case, I'll give Sam Siciliano a pass on a rating for the mystery. Those who have never read/seen the original Phantom can better rate the mystery.
Second, if I completely ignore the fact that I am incredibly familiar with the person of Sherlock Holmes as Conan Doyle conceived him, this is a fine story. The story itself is well-written and an exceptionally quick and absorbing read. And I thoroughly approve of the new ending. Replace Holmes with a brand-new detective and I could down-right love this story....Which brings me to the major stumbling block in the book....
This is billed as "The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes"--that would seem to me to be a major selling point. Siciliano apparently has great disdain for Holmes as Doyle wrote him. He makes huge changes to the Holmes character and ditches Dr. Watson as the detective's right-hand man. Instead, he gives us Dr. Henry Vernier--Holmes's cousin and best-buddy. The bestest of besties who knows Holmes better than anybody on earth--especially better than that blithering idiot Watson. Vernier is down-right jealous of Watson--that's my only explanation for the character assassination that issues forth from the mouth of Holmes's cousin. And yet Vernier isn't exactly the brighest bulb himself--regularly missing clues and suggestive actions that are as obvious as the nose he holds so high in the air when referring to that other doctor. Listening to Vernier's drivel about how much better he is as a doctor and a friend to Holmes and side-kick was nearly enough to make me stop reading. Take that and the fact that Holmes is suddenly in touch with his feelings (totally understands all this unrequited love business because he had some of that himself) and he's suddenly all about the cash--charging outrageous fees left, right and center--forget the fact that most of his cases he took on because the mystery fascinated him, and...all those references in Doyle that might have made you think Holmes believed in God...yeah, no, Watson was just making stuff up (as he does, you know). Seems to me that this book was just a chance for Siciliano to make the Holmes character in his own image rather than pay homage to Doyle's well-known detective.
So...final summation: Mystery--neutral; Story Itself--very good; Holmes story--pretty darn bad. We'll give it ★★ and 1/2 stars on the blog and round it up on Goodreads.
The Future Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Scroll of the Dead by David Stuart Davies is a much better Holmes pastiche than the previous Davies offering The Future Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Scroll of the Dead by David Stuart Davies is a much better Holmes pastiche than the previous Davies offering I read last year (The Veiled Detective)--better in the sense that it adheres more strictly to the canon and expectations of those who like their Holmes stories to have a bit of continuity. I don't mind twists--provided the Doyle stories have not already established precedent.
In this outing, Holmes is asked by his brother Mycroft to attend a seance to unmask an impostor posing as a medium, Uriah Hawkshaw. Hawkshaw is busy fleecing wealthy mourners and Mycroft is afraid that while communicating with his deceased son, Sir Robert Hythe, may inadvertently disclose affairs of state. The medium is easily dispatched by Holmes keen eye for fraud. In the course of the evening he meets Sebastian Melmoth, a rich dandy who seems to be following in Oscar Wilde's social footsteps. But Holmes soon learns that Melmoth is a man hell-bent on obtaining immortality and willing to risk all--especially the lives of others--to locate an ancient Egyptian papyrus that is supposed to hold the secret of eternal life. He leaves behind a trail of robbery, death, and deception and it is up to Holmes and Watson to stop him and avert disaster...In this fast-paced adventure, the action moves from London to the picturesque Lake District as Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson once more battle with the forces of evil.
Scroll of the Dead shows that Davies does know his Sherlockian lore. He more accurately portrays the relationship between Holmes and Watson. He has the right mixture of action and ratiocination. There are chases across the countryside and nights spent with the pipe and violin. Watson is perhaps a shade too obtuse over a few points and Davies reveals a few too many clues. Holmes normally keeps his clues held more tightly to his chest--it's rare in the original stories for me to figure out the solution before the end. Overall--a very enjoyable read. If you're going to try a Davies pastiche, then go for this one and give The Veiled Detective a miss. Three and a half stars....more