Caiden Cooper Myles strikes the absolutely correct tone in The Further Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Miles’s prose rolls smoothly along—highlighting gas-lit, foggy London streets as well as the firelight in the sitting room of that famous duo—Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. The reader can see the yellow, swirling fog with gas lamps glowing dimly without casting much light.
In “The Adventure of the Sinister Correspondent,” coded messages under stamps reminds me of “The Adventure of the Dancing Men” in that secret coded messages portend problems for the recipient. “The Problem of Hazelwood Grange” reminds me of The Hound of the Baskervilles in that Holmes sends Watson in his place to help gather clues, view the scene of the crime, and report back to Holmes. Watson purports himself well in this story. He is a well-drawn character in this story, as well as the rest of the tales. “The Adventure of the Drury Lane Pawnbroker” brings to mind “The Red-Headed League” because it deals with pawnbrokers and the misappropriation or mishandling of money. “The Adventure of the Naval Architect” recalls “The Adventure of the Naval Treaty.” Both involve stolen military secrets.
The author of these further adventures strikes the right note with both Holmes and Watson’s characterization. Watson always has an eye for women, as, in “The Adventure of the Braden Park Bench,” Watson notes, “She had dark hair, bright blue eyes, and an air of confidence beyond her years. I was immediately struck by her beauty.” On the other hand, Holmes stands as a more intellectual plateau in the same story about Braden Park. For example, “Mid-morning the following day, Holmes and I found ourselves in Amberley. It was a charming village which appealed to me but it did not appeal to my friend whose love of Mother Nature was largely limited to her poisons.”
Illustrations in this anthology are not the best. The frontispiece illustration before “The Adventure of the Sinister Correspondent” has Holmes in a too-small puffy chair . A puffy, gummy bear chair that looks like it will swallow him.
Caiden Cooper Myles demonstrates a knowledge of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes canon. I mentioned a few similarities between Myles’ stories anthologized in The Further Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes and Doyle’s stories. Similarities may exist for the other stories as well. But significant time has elapsed since I’ve read the original Holmes canon for me to be forgetful. These similarities in no way detract from Myles’ stories themselves or of my enjoyment of them. In fact, the faint similarities enhanced my appreciation of Myles’ writing style. Myles takes his version of Holmes and Watson in a new direction, including some modernizations such as Holmes’ use of a telephone. Myles’ stories are in no way derivative. They stand alone, a well-done addition to the contemporary Holmes canon.
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Torso at Highgate Cemetery and Other Sherlock Holmes Stories by Tim Symonds has all the expected tropes, such as foggy London streets and fast hansom cab rides. From Highgate Cemetery to Holmes’ retirement bee farm in Sussex Holmes and Watson are “crammed into an agile hansom rattling off to Charing Cross Station [Watson’s] revolver tucked into a pocket.” One of the stories even has Watson in a prison in Istanbul! He even had a visitation from Mycroft Holmes and was sent to Crete to search for Holmes.
Things and times are more modern in some ways, too. Holmes has a telephone in the house at his farm. Modernity abounds as Holmes and Watson take a ride in a motorized hackney (i.e., an initial form of a car).
Overall, I liked these stories. Crisp writing enlivens them and causes tension. For example, in “The Torso at Highgate Cemetery,” Holmes and Watson indirectly cause the death of a Chinese scribe. Some oddities exist, too. In “The Mystery of the Missing Artefacts,” Watson had offered his services during World War I. While imprisoned, Watson received a telegram from Holmes to come assist him. As if Watson were casually sitting in his house in Marylebone. Upon Watson’s return, Holmes picked up relations with him as if Watson had been away on vacation. Really?!
Readers who enjoy works about the ever-popular Holmes and Watson, detectives extraordinaire, will be happy with this selection of short stories. From dealing with the ever-dangerous Colonel Sebastian Moran to scaring Dr. Watson with galloping knights and ghostly monks, things happen within these stories. Although some stories had sluggish spots; overall these six were enjoyable.
Not my favorite stories in the Holmes-Watson canon of pastiches. But, I would read other Holmes-Watson adventures written by this author.
I received a copy of The Torso at Highgate Cemetery and Other Sherlock Holmes Stories in exchange for an honest review.
Two Novellas: Quinn Lydia highlights JC Norton’s exceptional ability at drawing likeable, well-defined, intelligent characters. Both novellas are character driven and develop in a limited setting. “Quinn” develops mostly in his house and studio; “Lydia” mostly on an expeditionary cruise ship, with a few exceptions in each story.
“Quinn” focuses on what may happen when someone is told they have a terminal illness. Such a death sentence descends on Quinn Evans, an artist and professor. How do you live and what plans do you make? How do you tell your co-workers and family?
“Lydia” follows Lydia O ‘Brien on an expedition cruise to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia in the South Atlantic Ocean. Divorced, Lydia isn’t necessarily looking for a long-term relationship. Her life as a photographer engulfs her completely in a warm cocoon. Then, meeting Maurice unsettles her to a degree and rocks her boat, figuratively. In her mid-thirties and financially secure, does she need or want a relationship with a partner who admits he is bisexual?
Quinn and Lydia drive their stories forward. They both are personable and likeable. One can very much wish to be a part of their circle of friends. Secondary characters such as Quinn’s ex-wife and son, and Lydia’s friend, Maurice, enhance the story in a positive way. Upbeat but not sugar-coated, even when dealing with death, both of the stories in Two Novellas: Quinn Lydia were a joy to read.
I will be reading more of JC Norton’s work later in the year, such as Avenging Angels, the next in the Stone Ayers series, and Christine’s Cruise. (See my reviews of Orca and Scot Free, the first two Stone Ayers books.)
In Sherlock Holmes: The Persian Slipper and Other Stories, Brenda Seabrooke does an excellent job of recreating Arthur Conan Doyle’s brisk, steady pacing. Seabrooke shows all sides of the famous duo. From Sherwin Soames, a tall lad interested in chemistry interacting with a Scottish lad, Ian Dotson, to John Watson helping solve one of the first cases he encounters early in his friendship with Holmes. Although uneven, these stories entertain.
Even as a young lad, Sherwin Soames, Seabrook’s protagonist in “The Marzando Matter,” has the markings of the adult we know from Conan Doyle. In this story, Soames admits he has already studied thieves, pickpockets, cut-purses and the like. Soames concludes: “The human mind is capable of almost anything and once set on a path is unlikely to change it unless or until it is expedient to do so.” “The Persian Slipper” lacks strength. Why would Holmes just insert himself into a case without being asked? The client had sought out Dr. Watson. Why would Holmes suggest that he and Watson use aliases while they were at the home of the fiancé of the client’s sister? And before he knew much of the facts in the case. Why would George Spencer-Hytton (the fiancé) suddenly show marked improvement when Dr. Watson had barely begun treatment?
Somewhat better is “The Curse of Barcombe Keep.” Sherlock Holmes lets on that he believes in curses to route out the murderer. Although why the staff were so shaken by an apparent curse that affected only the members of the Northington family, owners of the house, one can only guess.
Seabrooke creates a believable pair in her rendition of Holmes and Watson. As usual, Holmes is a step or two ahead of Watson in interpreting clues and witnesses. Seabrooke’s Watson demonstrates a sense of humor. At the beginning of “The Persian Slipper,” Watson grumbles about the heat while observing Holmes watching ice slivers in separate teacups. Smoke is rising from one of the cups. After a moment, Watson says, “I say – your ice is afire. It’s so hot even the ice is burning up.” Turns out, the cup contains a sliver of dry ice. Holmes is comparing the melting of that versus real ice.
I received a free copy of Sherlock Holmes: The Persian Slipper and Other Stories by Brenda Seabrooke from reedsy.com/discovery in exchange for an honest review.
Books about fictional detectives—especially Sherlock Holmes—keep reproducing in my pile of books to be read. Much the same way as tribbles did in the original Star Trek TV series. (Anyone remember that besides me? Or am I really dating myself?) Novels, anthologies, what have you, about Sherlock Holmes multiply while I’m not watching. One such book is a slim short story collection by Bradley H. Sinor entitled The Game’s Afoot: A Holmesian Miscellany.
Three stories in this collection do not feature Holmes or Watson at all but feature other characters in the Holmes milieu. One such story includes Colonel Sebastian Moran, erstwhile associate of Professor Moriarty. Two other tales highlight Mycroft Holmes as detective/spy master. All of the adventures are of sufficient length and detail to give the reader an enjoyable view into the world of Holmes, Watson, et al. Unusual subject matter, such as vampires and alternate universes, enlivens a few of the tales. In “The Other Detective,” Holmes and Moriarty switch roles as the World’s First Consulting Detective and the Napoleon of Crime.
Precise prose enables these adventures to move along at a steady clip. Holmes inhabits his position as a man of few words but is somewhat less curmudgeonly than in Conan Doyle’s canon. Watson, a widower in these stories, meets the woman of his dreams for a second time in one of these narratives.
The Game’s Afoot: A Holmesian Miscellany is a nice change of pace considering the subject matter and change of worlds and lead characters in some of the stories.
Prose that’s precise and incisive defines Mary Behan’s treatment of the stories in Kernels: Stories. The characters who populate her stories exhibit unique and specific traits and mannerisms. For example, the unnamed narrator of “Dangerous Building” has buried memories of her younger years. She does so because they interfere with the pleasant way in which she wishes to remember aspects of her childhood. Things about the local manor house near where the narrator grew up are more than half forgotten. Memories of that long-ago time are not quite accurate.
In other stories, hopes and dreams are dashed only to have other dreams take their place in some cases. In “Imagined Scenes” Jennifer Fowler dreams of riding the Trans-Siberian Railway on its lengthy trip. For her, “each scene along the way had its own vivid color, smell and sound.” But due to imagined time and work constraints, “the Great Railway Bazaar scenes faded gradually as the years went by.” Jennifer ends up taking a totally different ride that opens up other dreams and vistas. In “All that Glitters is Not Gold,” Ellen drifts from loving Peter to having a friendship with Peter’s wife, Julia.
Location, Location, Location
Location is a character in several of Behan’s stories. In “Buried Treasure” location throws a distinct shadow. The pine woods and rocky ridge near Kate’s property throw a shadowy, slightly sinister chill over the story. Kate hears voices and smells cooking from a bygone era while walking on her property and the local nature preserve. In “Dangerous Building” the reader can visualize the broken-down manor house with its driveway bordered by rhododendrons and beech trees.
I enjoyed all of the stories in Kernels: Stories. These stories shone a light on different lives and circumstances. Behan’s prose provides the right touch to illuminate her characters and their background. Very well done.