Review: The Adventure of the Missing Necklace by Daniel D. Victor

The fourth offering to the MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories, Vol. IV: 2016 Annual. One of my favorites and you are about to see why.

When I was much, much younger, I shared a love of reading with a dear friend who sadly passed away a few years ago.

I am convinced that from beyond the grave that Ree is dancing with glee, clapping her hands, and chortling with the joy Mr. Victor brought us for this adventure, and–icing on the cake–used Sherlock Holmes, one of her heroes–to do it.

Because this Adventure yanks out Guy de Maupassant’s infamous tale of “the Diamond Necklace,” and throws it to the ground, and gives us a much better story.

I can’t stress this enough.  “The Diamond Necklace” gave a lot of high schoolers (all girls) flipping nightmares.  It really did.  It upset us, scared us, made us furious and worst of all, made us feel impotent against society and injustice.  It made us feel like we belonged to a different subspecies, that women and their vanities made things worse instead of better.  It didn’t matter that I was a child of a comfortable middle class and Ree often went hungry. She knew what the wages of poverty and politics meant more than most adults. It didn’t break her, but it gave her an almost supernatural ability to see past the false fronts people erected in order to look “good” whatever that meant.

(Or as we sourly wondered, Did Mrs. Forrester never notice her glass necklace was replaced by diamonds? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to hire a detective to find the necklace? Did no one notice the couple dropped out of sight to work this thing off?)

We spoke of this story once, and never again.  It was too hard to talk about. But we remembered it.

Mr. Victor gives us the true story from the thoughtful eye of Sherlock Holmes, who makes no bones about his feelings for  de Maupassant.  Worse than being a mere ‘scrivener’ is the fellow’s willingness to bend and twist truthful events into something more ‘appropriate’ to his tastes.

We can relish Watson in his absence, for it is clear that Watson finds all of Holmes’ mental workings fascinating and worthy; with de Maupassant Holmes has to find an experience worthy of his attention–and Holmes has it: A dull grey bowler left in a peculiar place.  Noting the clues and the out-of-placeness of the hat, Holmes follows a thin trail to a surprising story and helps a young couple in unexpected ways.  The slow twists of this short story are a delight because we can “see” Holmes in his quiet narration with an interesting little story. Tracking a man from his hat-size is a fresh and delightful method of crime-solving, and his patient work shows just how much Holmes loves to learn about the world around him–and because he does, we appreciate the complexities of the world around us.  And with a hard-edged anger we understand his gun-shy distaste for fictionalizing the clean, cool workings of his mind.  Such workings have invaded his privacy and betrayed his ethics in ways that are difficult to express.

In a book of gems this one stands out–no glass, no paste.  This is a real treasure. Reading it lifted a terrible weight off my shoulders–a weight that has been there since 1989. I can only think that Ree and I weren’t the only ones bitterly affected by that story.  Thank you, Mr. Victor. What a satisfying conclusion!

 

 

Review: The Mystery of the Turkish Cipher by Deanna Baran

Deanna Baran has beaten me to the punch.

I’m a fanatic about honey, and quietly stockpile single-cut honey from all over the world because I too, believe in medicinal properties of honey taken from specific plants (and the flavors?  Don’t get me started on the flavors!!).  My official state’s flower is known for its infamous properties for specific effects which makes me leery of assuming anyone else’s honey is “a-ok.”

But it was only a temporary disappointment that Ms. Baran has written something I’ve toyed with; she does an incredible job of bringing out a lovely story.  The trick to a straightforward mystery is keeping its identity a secret until the very end.

In an era where open lines of communication were the norm, ciphered messages, letters and telegraph wires were rampant. Holmes enjoys ciphers and the way they hide the obvious.  His method of walking Watson through his demonstration of how he cracked the code of his client’s correspondence is true to form, for Holmes can be his most charming and reachable when he is showing another a new method of problem-solving. He loves learning, and we suspect he likes to give others the tools they need to learn for themselves.

Geeks can enjoy the long, gnarled threads of history, science, social politics, society’s norms, botany, and even aggravating family bonds in this smoothly written and all-too short short story.  I enjoyed every word.

We are quite lucky that David Marcum managed to pull this writer into the MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes stories.  I will be watching for this name in the future.

 

Review: The Tale of the First Adventure by Derrick Belanger

This is the fourth book of David Marcum’s editorial masterpiece, The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories, Part IV: 2016 Annual.  You may purchase your copy directly from MX (which increases your charity donation to the Undershaw Preservation Trust), or find it on Amazon.com.

Derrick Belanger is a relative newcomer to the pastiche and his energy is compensating for lost time.  What we have here is one of the rarer types of tale: a blend of personal recollection into Holmes’ past (such as in MUSG), and Watson encountering this unexpected part of Holmes’ history in his professional field.

And this makes sense.  London is a big city, but as they say of Grand Central Station in New York:  “If you stay here long enough, you’ll see everyone you’ve ever known.”  We just don’t see many examples of Holmes and Watson’s lives professionally criss-crossing as they must have done.

Avoiding spoilers means I have to be restrained in details, but the plot is a realistically-conceived case of hidden identity, and a young Holmes learns a never-forgotten lesson on how much to tell one’s client…and how much to keep to oneself.  It ends on an “open note” so we make hope Mr. Belanger will have a second story where Holmes can meet resolution with the other parties of his case…and Watson segues it all into writing one of the most famous cases in the canon.

Want to read more  Derrick Belanger’s work can be found HERE! Do check out his freshly-funded Kickstarter project, BEYOND WATSON.

 

 

Worn Out: The Physical Price of Police Work

Very good…and properly humbling to see this recognition of the effects of the career.

Victorian Detectives

I’ve been too sick today to do any proper research, so thought I’d write about detectives who were forced to retire because of disease or infirmity. My illness will not, of course, lead to my retirement (one needs a job for that) but I thought it would be a fun subject for a blog post.

Although the word detective conjures up images of tracking down criminals, laying in wait to catch a thief, or (as did often happen) chasing suspects all over Britain, Europe and the world, we rarely stop to think about the long-term effects of such work on the men who did it.

Police Jacket (photo care of the Metropolitan Police Museum) Police Jacket (photo care of the Metropolitan Police Museum)

Being a policeman in nineteenth-century London was tough. Hours were long, weather inclement and clothing often inadequate. One look at the old uniforms at the Metropolitan Police Museum makes those long damp English nights seem all the more chilly.

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Published in: on April 18, 2016 at 2:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Blog Reposting

<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18384191-sherlock-holmes-and-a-quantity-of-debt&#8221; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img border=”0″ alt=”Sherlock Holmes and a Quantity of Debt” src=”https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1386585824m/18384191.jpg&#8221; /></a><a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18384191-sherlock-holmes-and-a-quantity-of-debt”>Sherlock Holmes and a Quantity of Debt</a> by <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14827033.David_Marcum”>David Marcum</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1613196533″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
This is one of the best pastiches to come out in the past few years. David Marcum is a rising star in the Canon-centric field of Sherlock Holmes mysteries and this proves why he should be watched. The only real difference between his and ACD’s sleuthing pairs is that David’s Watson has more time in writing things down; he can explain and add depth to the plot whilst ACD’s Watson had to work to keep his words under limit. I like to think of them as Watson’s “original” version of events, and ACD’s writing is the streamlined, swifter-paced version that follows.<br><br>We know that Holmes is smart, but we rarely get to see him demonstrate his intellect and memory recall in a murkier case! The Dickens tributes are all homages that lead the reader home to a final, fateful conclusion. We have a body where it oughten’t to be…or is it a case of a body that doesn’t exist? A near-perfect crime’s nerve and ingenuity is laid low by the patient forces of nature.<br><br>If you love good technical details this is a treat. Everything from the era’s hydroengineering and a painfully realistic description of the hunchweather that is England. It doesn’t just rain in this book; it rains pikels!<br><br>Continuity nods galore here, especially with some familiar faces among the Yard, and a significant tip of the hat to one of ACD’s excellent novels. Put this one on your shelf.<br><br>The reader was given a copy of this book for review.
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<a href=”https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/46622568-marcia-wilson”>View all my reviews</a>

Published in: on April 18, 2016 at 7:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Review: Sherlock Holmes and a Quantity of Debt

Soon to be in softcover!

This is one of the best pastiches to come out in the past few years. David Marcum is a rising star in the Canon-centric field of Sherlock Holmes mysteries and this proves why he should be watched. The only real difference between his and ACD’s sleuthing pairs is that David’s Watson has more time in writing things down; he can explain and add depth to the plot whilst ACD’s Watson had to work to keep his words under limit. I like to think of them as Watson’s “original” version of events, and ACD’s writing is the streamlined, swifter-paced version that follows.

We know that Holmes is smart, but we rarely get to see him demonstrate his intellect and memory recall in a murkier case! The Dickens tributes are all homages that lead the reader home to a final, fateful conclusion. We have a body where it oughten’t to be…or is it a case of a body that doesn’t exist? A near-perfect crime’s nerve and ingenuity is laid low by the patient forces of nature.

If you love good technical details this is a treat. Everything from the era’s hydroengineering and a painfully realistic description of the hunchweather that is England. It doesn’t just rain in this book; it rains pikels!

Continuity nods galore here, especially with some familiar faces among the Yard, and a significant tip of the hat to one of ACD’s excellent novels. Put this one on your shelf.

The reader was given a copy of this book for review.

Amazon USA: Buy here.

Amazon UK:  Buy here.

Show your real love for writers and their hard-working publishers:  Go Here for USA

 and Here if you want to go straight to the UK website.

You Buy Bones: Book Review by Derrick Belanger

https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/10220882-author-interview-with-marcia-wilson-on-beyond-watson-fan-fiction-and-h

Published in: on April 12, 2016 at 1:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Review: A Few Lessons from Sherlock Holmes

Peter Bevelin’s small book (81 pages) is every argument you ever wanted to win against another Holmesian–or every defense you needed to backup someone you felt was right.  Period.

Imagine what a book would be like if Watson had simply lifted out all examples of his friend’s reasonings and philosophies and placed them in a separate volume.  Here it is.

In these trying times, where students are re-learning the art of debate in wangling grades or proving classroom participation, their jobs counselor would be advised to recommend this book–or the instructor place this on the reading list.  You’re getting more than the most famous quotes of Sherlock Holmes–you are getting the context of these statements and why they act as linchpins upon the plots and intrigues that fuel human nature.

Part reference, part Sun Tzu, part history lesson and part social science with a smattering of Heraclitian Logos, A Few Lessons from Sherlock Holmes are small examples of a large macrocosm lifted to the light for a closer examination.  The subject matter is easily found, but the definitions are pithy and full of meaning and require contemplation.

Easily accessible, one can page to a statement made in bold black:  ‘Distance Gives us Perspective’, Patience’, or ‘Check for other possibilities’ and so on.  beneath the statements are the backup data that includes direct quotes from the Canon, and/or relevant parallel examples such as from Poe or Bell or ACD himself. A nice touch are the examples where you can see Holmes is paying hommage to his peers and elders in the mental field; this is an extra boost when we may confess to being less than expert in the Era in which Holmes lived.

Bevelin helps us focus on what makes the Philosopher Holmes tick; this compilation of statements are proven true and valid by action or example. Buy this book for the friend who has everything; for the frenemy who likes to taunt you with choice quotes from the Canon, or add it to your shelf of koans. This is truly The Art of Holmes in the way that The Art of War was for the mental approach of a physical problem.

MX Publishing in the UK: http://www.mxpublishing.com/brand/Peter+Bevelin

MX Publishing in the USA: http://www.mxpublishing.com/search?ssv=bevelin

 

Interview: Steve Emecz, Publisher MX Publishing

And the man behind all the books!

The Sherlock Conversations

INTERVIEW: Steve Emecz, MX Publishing from Don Smith on Vimeo.

A couple of weeks ago I sat down and had a conversation with publisher Steve Emecz. His company, MX Publishing has published several books on Sherlock Holmes and education!

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Published in: on April 11, 2016 at 2:20 am  Comments (2)  

Writing for Accuracy: Blood Loss

There is occasional, shall we say, RIPE LANGUAGE in this post, but honest to Mergatroid, it has everything you need to know about blood loss.

Go here for the fun and games.

 

Published in: on April 1, 2016 at 2:21 pm  Comments (1)