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Art in the Blood (Sherlock Holmes Adventure, #1)
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Art in the Blood

(Sherlock Holmes Adventure #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  2,841 ratings  ·  435 reviews
London. A snowy December, 1888.

Sherlock Holmes, 34, is languishing and back on cocaine after a disastrous Ripper investigation. Watson can neither comfort nor rouse his friend – until a strangely encoded letter arrives from Paris. Mademoiselle La Victoire, a beautiful French cabaret star writes that her illegitimate son by an English Lord has disappeared, and she has been
Hardcover, 300 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Collins Crime Club (first published August 27th 2015)
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Lorraine Petkus The author brought the story alive by adding historical data on her web site. So much so I bought a bottle of the perfume mentioned in the book for $3…moreThe author brought the story alive by adding historical data on her web site. So much so I bought a bottle of the perfume mentioned in the book for $350, that hurt, but it is lovely and I wear it every day.(less)
Roger Yee “Here,” said a friend, handing me a gift-wrapped copy of Art in the Blood, by Bonnie MacBird, “is something as intricate as those structures you deal …more“Here,” said a friend, handing me a gift-wrapped copy of Art in the Blood, by Bonnie MacBird, “is something as intricate as those structures you deal with that won’t take years to finish and is lots more fun.” I spend much of my time as the editor-in-chief of a publishing house producing books on architecture, design and urban planning, so I welcomed this newly created adventure of Sherlock Holmes without knowing what lay ahead.

What did I find? First, a disclaimer: I’m not a Holmesian. Having read just a handful of stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, I cannot speak with any authority on the language, structure, plotting, characterization, settings or other vital literary signs of Sherlock Holmes, John Watson and the 19th-century world they inhabit.

But I found Art in the Blood to be a carefully observed, colorful and fast-paced visit to London, Paris and the English countryside led by a brilliant but imperfect Holmes and a sensible and not-too-bumbling Dr. Watson. The mystery that propels the book, helping the good doctor rescue the great but dispirited detective from a mid-life crisis, focuses on the affairs of the powerful Earl of Pellingham: the disappearance of Emil, the Earl’s illegitimate young son, the Earl’s purchase of a stolen French art treasure, the Marseilles Nike, and the brutal slaying of several boys employed at the Earl’s silk mill. Holmes is roused to action by an appeal from Emil’s estranged mother, Emmeline La Victoire, a French cabaret singer, to find her son.

That these issues are all connected is not obvious to anyone except Holmes, of course, and perhaps his talented sibling rival Mycroft, who occasionally bursts on stage from the wings of this drama as an important yet shadowy official in His Majesty’s service. But Holmes is soon in hot pursuit of suspects and evidence as he accepts Mlle La Victoire’s case, and he and his newlywed friend--yes, happily married and no longer residing at 221B Baker Street--find themselves playing a dangerous, high-stakes game the moment they meet the beautiful and calculating chanteuse. Before long, there are tense confrontations, violent fights and even a murder to complicate matters.

I’m not going to tell how the mystery unravels, since others have described the plot quite well already. More importantly, Art in the Blood takes the reader on a very enjoyable journey as it brings the culprits to justice. We get to meet such striking characters as Jean Vidocq, an alleged great-grandson of Eugène François Vidocq, the French criminal who founded the Sûreté Nationale (now part of France’s Police Nationale) and the world’s first private detective agency, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the great French post-Impressionist artist, along with numerous other memorable personalities. We also are treated to vivid tours of the unfettered nightlife in Paris’s Montmartre, the rough and tumble docks of London and the privileged if confining atmosphere in one of England’s stately homes.

It’s great fun, supported by a careful pacing of scenes that contrasts quiet, contemplative moments with lively and telling conversations, as well as scenes of swiftly unfolding, non-stop action. Before you know it, Holmes has solved the case--unless you accept Vidocq’s version of events--and he and Dr. Watson are back in London. Holmes tinkers with meditation to preoccupy himself before the next worthy case arrives, while Watson dutifully accompanies his wife on a holiday in Brighton that bores him immensely. Worry not. Author MacBird, a Hollywood screenwriter, actor and director, is hard at work on another Holmes mystery, Unquiet Spirits. Our two friends won’t be idle for long, nor will many a grateful reader of this book.


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Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Sherlock Holmes is contacted by Mlle La Victorie, a French cabaret singer whose son has disappeared. But it seems that the missing child has links to the theft of a valuable statue. Now Holmes and Dr. Watson must find both the child and the statue.

I think I must stop reading Sherlock Holmes books, at least those not written by Arthur Conan Doyle or Laurie R. King. It feels like every single Sherlock Holmes book I have read lately just doesn't work for me. Often Sherlock Holmes just doesn't feel
Aug 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, thriller
Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure reads like a cross between Benedict Cumberbatch's/Robert Downey's Sherlock more than Doyle's. Overall though, brushing aside comparison to Doyle's Watson's narration,Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure is a good read. 3.5 stars.FRTC. ...more
Jul 27, 2015 rated it did not like it
DNF at 33%

I was pretty excited about this book. I was intrigued by the premise and I'm mildly obsessed with the tv shows Sherlock and Elementary.

My main complaint is that the manic personality of Sherlock depicted so wonderfully in the shows did not translate well in the book. Same goes for the delightful banter between Sherlock and Watson. To me, Sherlock came across as mean and pedantic and that took away any enjoyment.

I found myself putting the book down after 20 minutes of starting to rea
Rena Sherwood
When Toulouse-Latrec showed up about page 100, I got worried. By page 120, after Mycroft threatens Sherlock with jail and "hard labour" I gave up. What a disappointment!


This book has just about everything wrong in a Sherlock Holmes pastiche (Watson writing down curse words? Really? The client repeating her story twice in less than 100 pages? WHY?) and yet it still got published.


Lovely cover, though. Too bad it couldn't have been for a book I'd want to give a darn about.

Caidyn (he/him/his)
One day while I was at work, my mom texted me. She works as a librarian and she knows how much I love Holmes pastiches. She saw this one and thought of me. Sorry mom, but I really didn't like it. Not enough to one star it, but just really annoying.

For a while, I thought three stars. Then 2.5. Finally two. Now, I'm hovering around 1.5. My first dud of the year, man. We should celebrate this! (sarcasm)

There were just a few things I had a problem with, and I'll try to list them as they came up to m
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good story. Unfortunately, I did not care much for the audiobook.
If I go on with the series, it will be text, not audio.

Edited. Dec. 18, 2020. I bought the book and reread this story, prior to reading the second book in the series. I liked this story much better in print. I am upping the star count by one.
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Art in the Blood: A Sherlock Holmes Adventure by Bonnie MacBird tells the tale of an older and somewhat bitter Sherlock Holmes. Feeling betrayed by his brother and the country he loves after a disastrous investigation into the Jack the Ripper murders, Holmes has fallen into a back under the influence of the drug, cocaine.

In December of 1888, Watson finds his friend listless and unresponsive. Fearing Holmes is fallen into a bout of depression that is fueled by his drug use, Watson implores the g
Lauren Stoolfire
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm always on the look out for Holmesian stories and Art in the Blood (Sherlock Holmes Adventures #1) by Bonnie MacBord hit almost all the right notes. I really got a kick out of reading her version of Holmes and Watson who are very much a mash up of Jeremy Brett and Robert Downey Jr as Holmes and David Burke and Jude Law as Watson with just a dash of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman to top it off. I also really appreciated that we get to see Watson take the spotlight as the action begins ...more
Yzabel Ginsberg
[I received a copy of this novel through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.]

Decent but nothing to write home about. While I found myself excited at first, because it was reminiscent of actual Sherlock Holmes adventures, I also ended up losing touch fairly easily, and not being really interested in what was happening. Perhaps because of the hints at a potential attraction toward the French artist (I don't know... for me, Irene Adler still remains the only woman for Sherlock). Or because
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
That cover and title are so good I almost bought a signed copy without even knowing if the book was crap or not.

3.5 Stars

This is one of the neatest things I've seen concerning a book extra. These are the illustrated annotations for the novel. They are spoilerific, but are broken into chapters so one won't accidentally spoil themselves. They are also written in a way that keeps with the narrative that the story is a restored copy of something Watson wrote. It's
Art in the Blood is a pastiche with one of my favorite characters, Sherlock Holmes, and is an engaging tale and a promising series that I'm looking forward to reading more of. One of the aspects of this book that is the best is the research of author Bonnie MacBird. She is genius at including all the sidebar items of history that make fiction sing for me. And, the reading of Art in the Blood isn't the end of those fascinating tidbits. It is simply a required part of this reading to visit the aut ...more
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
My favorite Holmes stories are the ones I can read and they feel like Holmes, and I know little difference between the actions and reactions from the characters I first met thanks to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. "Art in the Blood" jumps quickly into an intriguing plot, introduces secondary characters who have some skin in the game, and - while it's difficult for stories like this to put our heroes into dire straits - really challenges our protagonists. Fast-paced, several intriguing subplots, Holmes ...more
Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan but I believe one cannot beat the Conan Doyle originals. But I am always prepared to try a Holmes' pastiche, if only to see how more modern writers portray him and Watson.

However, 'Art in the Blood' just didn't do it for me at all; try as she might Bonnie MacBird just did not get that Holmes/Watson relationship quite right and with brother Mycroft regularly muscling in - attempting to be as clever as Sherlock - and the introduction of such as Toulouse Lautre (why
Mary Pagones
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved the characterization of Watson as a loyal, intelligent, and loving partner. My favorite scenes from the book are when Watson goes to great lengths to help his friend, including *hope this isn't too much of a spoiler* an impromptu blood transfusion. The characterization of Holmes, however, was quite problematic. It reminded me more of a drug-addled Robert Downey Jr. Holmes than the canonical Holmes, and I was never a big fan of the Guy Ritchie-directed series. Also, Holmes *more spoilers* ...more
Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
The book is nothing ground breaking but its a nice read. Well written and plays nicely on the characters. Srory line was quite good and didn't deviate too much from how the characters should be.
Not as brilliant as House of Silk but still a decent read
Jan 31, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Art in the Blood is author Bonnie Macbird’s first in a series of Sherlock Holmes novels.

It is set in the traditional historical setting. Sherlock at this point is already renowned, so it’s not a retelling or an origin story. The way it is written acts as a missing case.

For the most part, the story is told from the point of view of Doctor John Watson. Sherlock’s long suffering friend and colleague. This I felt worked well as it gave us a perspective into the story.

The feel of the story is more ak
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What an absolute pleasure it was to immerse myself in Art in the Blood…a fun homage which is so very true to Conan Doyle’s style. Like the original, Holmes is brilliant, witty, annoying, fearless, and wonderfully vulnerable. And Watson remains the friend we all want to have.

What captured me most was MacBird’s ability to include factoids about the historical period that literally and figuratively transported me. She has posted annotations ( that bring every detail to lif
Roz (Seventyeight.Sundays)
It was okay, I love the writing style and the pace is alright. Story is a bit dragging near the end and Sherlock doesn't feel like Sherlock. I know he's a deeply flawed character but emphasising too much on his emotional state is a bit much. Oh and it's a 3.5 star rounded down to 3. I will still rrad book 2. ...more
The story left a few events and details unanswered, and the end was a tad unrealistic, but overall it was a very enjoyable read.
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: b-n-serial-reads
This was the B&N Nook serial read for the month of March.

I was pleasantly surprised by this month's book. I love me some Sherlock, and I felt this author did a great job continuing the story. It's interesting how divided people are on the reviews for this book. They either loved it or despised it with the intensity of 1000 burning suns. I found the story to be engaging and entertaining. This was one of the few serial reads that tempted me to purchase the book so I didn't have to wait until the n
Alistair Duncan
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Now I don't normally review pastiche but I have made an exception.

I am fairly well known for avoiding pastiche and being critical of it. This is purely and simply because I have been disappointed again and again by what is produced today.

A pastiche (and I'm using this as an umbrella term for homage too) can fail due to poor grammar/spelling (a far too common occurrence), a lack of authenticity (non Victorian language, etc.) or just a downright rubbish plot and/or characterization.

I think I am st
Actual rating 2.5 stars. The following review was originally posted on my book blog The Book Challengers.


I actually wanted to read this book because of its pretty cover as there's something about book covers in black, white and red that appeals to me... It's sooooo beautiful even with the blood droplets right next to Sherlock!!! I thought that the blurb was intriguing and decided to give it a shot although I have never been a very big fan of Sherlock Holmes on paper. I prefer to get to know him
May 08, 2016 rated it liked it
This book shows the usual problem of pastiches -
1. It relies too much on film versions
2. Anachronisms in language and behavior
3. Not a sense of what Victorian people actually did.
4. Too many names dropped (such as Lautrec) - does Holmes really know every famous person in the 19th century?
5. Problematical use of French language, dropped in at odd places with no explanation. (I read French, know all these terms. Maybe she needs to actually study the language?)

In addition, an unconvincing story li
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is quite a thrilling, complicated novel with all sorts of plots and sub-plots twisting and turning to great effect. Holmes and Watson dash across the channel to try and solve a mystery involving a charming French chanteuse. M. Vidocq, former criminal and future police chief join in, engaging in a not very friendly rivalry with Holmes. The trail leads back to England and involves Moriarty, art theft, international intrigue, the exploitation of child labour in the mining industry and oh a lot ...more
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this great pastiche which, in my opinion, and without qualms, can be added to the Holmes canon. (This praise is from an unashamed Holmes purist.) I am certain that ACD would beam with approval at this fast-moving and intriguing adventure featuring his beloved characters. Ms. MacBird has truly kept to the essence of Holmes/Watson.

While the other side of Holmes' family were English country squires, and therefore probably more conventional (though I could not be sure), I have alwa
Shelley Giusti
For those who love the adventures of Sherlock Holmes this book is a must read for you. Sherlock and Watson take you on a wild ride to Paris upon receiving a letter for there immediate help. Is it a story about a missing child or is there more to it? You won't be able to stop reading this once you start. Captivating and intense this fast-paced action will keep you guessing until the end. Get Sherlocked today with Art in the Blood.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm not a big fan of Holmes portrayed as omnipotent. On the other hand, I also dislike it intensely when authors dumb him down and let him make one stupid mistake after another. Like in this book. Also, in the fanfiction community, there's a word for what Holmes is in this book: a woobie. Or, that one poor, fragile, always physically hurt, always suffering, always in despair and danger character. The author went way over the top here and by the end, I couldn't help but roll my eyes a little. ...more
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This has become my favorite "Sherlock" pastiche. Masterfully written! I can't wait for MacBird's next book! ...more
It’s late November, 1888, and as cold and dreary inside 221B as it is outside…at least, until the fire. Not a cozy fire in the hearth, but an actual fire which, but for the intervention of firemen, could have burned 221 Baker Street to the ground. Not that Sherlock Holmes particularly cares. When Watson (who is now married, but was summoned by his former landlady) finds him, he is laying on the settee,

His hair awry, his face ashen with lack of sleep and sustenance, he looked, quite frankly, at d
Jan 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm fussy about these "tribute" novels so I only gave it three stars but it's pretty good for a tribute novel. I read it quickly and it kept me interested until the end. It was a little stiff and there were moments where even I, not an expert in the period, could tell she'd made an error or an anachronism. But it was good and there were moments where she loosened up a bit and made the story a little more "hers", and a little more inherently interesting, and those were great. She should do more o ...more
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Bonnie MacBird has been a screenwriter (TRON), studio executive (Universal) producer (three Emmys), a playwright and a classically trained actor. She teaches writing at UCLA Extension's Writers' Program, and is a regular speaker on writing, creativity, and Sherlock Holmes.

She has three Sherlock Holmes novels, out now: ART IN THE BLOOD (2015), UNQUIET SPIRITS (2017) and THE DEVIL'S DUE (2019) . A f

Other books in the series

Sherlock Holmes Adventure (4 books)
  • Unquiet Spirits: Whisky, Ghosts, Murder (Sherlock Holmes Adventure #2)
  • The Devil’s Due (Sherlock Holmes Adventure #3)
  • The Three Locks (Sherlock Holmes Adventure #4)

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“It is well known that in exchange for visionary powers, artists often suffer with extreme sensitivity and violent changeability of temperament. A philosophical crisis, or simply boredom of inactivity, could send [Holmes] spinning into a paralysed gloom from which [I] could not retrieve him.” 3 likes
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