130 Years of A Study in Scarlet: A Tribute

This piece was originally written for the Baker Street Babes and can be found on their website here.

StudScar

To a great mind, nothing is little.

—-Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet

130 years ago today, Beeton’s Christmas Annual took a chance on a story by new author, a doctor in his twenties who happened to be named Arthur Conan Doyle. A Study in Scarlet is a peculiar tale by modern standards, with its separated sections and unfortunate depictions of Mormonism. Even at the time, it didn’t create much of a splash at initial publication.

But there’s something about it.

It’s just as well for two fellows to know the worst of one another before they begin to live together

—-Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet

There’s something about the youngest, sharpest incarnations of two people meeting for the first time. It’s impossible now to read the story without knowing the context of what is to come, but I believe that if you could, it would still have the power to whet your appetite and make you crave more of the interactions between Holmes and Watson, as the doctor takes you on the roller coaster journey of trying to understand his new flatmate.

It was easier to know it than to explain why I know it.

—-Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet

There’s also something about the detection, the “attainable superpower,” as Benedict Cumberbatch once described it. Holmes is always ahead, but he’s not superhuman. This youngest, sharpest Holmes does what all of us do, but he does it better and more, and he makes us realize, or at least imagine, what it would be like to understand the world around us to a far fuller extent.

There is a mystery about this which stimulates the imagination; where there is no imagination, there is no horror.

—-Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet

A Study in Scarlet is filled with the sense of adventure and razor-edge plotting that would come to characterize Doyle’s short stories.   His ability to craft suspense, while perhaps not yet at its height, is certainly evident in the story’s most thrilling moments. Another Holmesian through-line is the question of vigilante versus traditional justice, the question of whether horrendous acts can be justified. The very young Doyle crafted an engaging mystery; but, characteristically, he couldn’t resist including the kind of moral dilemma that would pepper the pages of many of his greatest stories.

There is nothing new under the sun. It has all been done before.

—-Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet

Except it hadn’t been done before. Though few realized it at the time, when A Study in Scarlet burst onto the scene, it ushered in an era in which the world would be captivated by a detective who could be moody and kind, genius and ignorant, contemplative and frenetic. The Era of Holmes and Watson, when two men with disparate habits and personalities would forge one of the most engaging partnerships in literary history, came with more of a whimper than a bang.

I think that’s part of what makes today wonderful. I wish I could travel in time to tell Doyle that his manuscript isn’t going to linger in oblivion. Jokes related to his feelings about Holmes aside, I wish I could show him that the era he created would never end. Instead, I want to tell him, it will endure through changing tastes and mores, somehow remaining relevant and poignant no matter how much time elapses.

Happy 130 years to a story that started as nothing–and changed the world.

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How to purchase my Sherlock Holmes novels:

(Book 1) The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 2) The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 3) The Detective The Woman and The Silent Hive is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide from Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle.

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Book Review: The Twisted Blackmailer by T.L. Garrison


I’ll admit it: This book had me at the revelation that the high school-aged narrator’s locker was 221A, meaning, of course, that the new girl, Sherlock Holmes, would soon take possession of locker 221B.

Garrison isn’t the first author to craft feminine versions of Holmes and Watson or to write about Holmes’s younger years, but The Twisted Blackmailer is one of the best-written books I’ve encountered in the genre. As you might have tracked from the comment about lockers, the book also takes place in the modern world. Since the advent of modernized Holmes on TV, this isn’t a particularly difficult concept to take on board, particularly since Garrison’s characterizations are spot on.

Canon aficionados might have guessed from the title that the story riffs off Doyle’s Milverton case. This book takes its own twists and turns and is inspired by the original rather than being imprisoned by it.

Particularly enjoyable is Watson’s sardonic practicality and literal narrative style that sometimes seems to reveal more than the narrator intends. That’s a difficult thing to achieve, but Garrison manages it seamlessly.
If you decide to give this book a try, don’t be afraid that you’ll miss the Sherlock Holmes we know and love. Our favorite detective may be a girl in the modern world, but the essential Sherlock Holmes is lovingly present on each page – maddening, endearing, hilarious, and brilliant.
Alternate universes can go terribly wrong or very, very right. Garrison has begun crafting an enjoyable Sherlockian AU that I’ll be excited to visit many times in the future. (Twisted Blackmailer is Book 1 of a planned series.)
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to go to high school with Sherlock Holmes, this is certainly the book for you. If you’re leery of non-traditional approaches, don’t be put off. The Twisted Blackmailer is a beautifully-written book that tells an engaging mystery story involving a Holmes and Watson who are as irresistible a duo as ever, while teasing upcoming mysteries for future stories to solve. Hard to put down, and I’m looking forward to the next one.
Paperback available here

Available for e-purchase here
The above-reviewed work was provided for consideration by the publisher. All opinions expressed are the reviewer’s own.

How to purchase my Sherlock Holmes novels:

(Book 1) The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 2) The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 3) The Detective The Woman and The Silent Hive is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide from Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle.

Book Review: Jewel of the Thames

 

 

Jewel of the Thames

I’m a happy book reviewer. A lot of times, when I review Holmesian literature, I come out with one of two perspectives: Either a book is a respectable pastiche but lags or is stilted in writing style, or it’s entertainingly written but comes across as disingenuous or anachronistic. It is rare, I repeat, extremely rare, to come across a book that is hugely enjoyable in style as well as being authentic and believable in content. Jewel of the Thames is that kind of book.

As the subtitle clearly indicates, this book is not a direct pastiche. It’s about a female protagonist named Portia Adams, with mysterious connections to Dr. Watson, who inherits 221b Baker Street in the 1920s. Portia is an effervescent, charming, and engaging character. Sadly, it’s still quite rare to come across self-actualized, intelligent, and healthy female protagonists, especially in mystery fiction, but Misri has created an absolute classic in the genre.

Even though Jewel is not a pastiche, it is an homage, peppered with references to characters and situations from the Doyle stories that will delight die-hard fans. It’s not just a vehicle for admiring Holmes, though. It’s the beginning of an extremely creative and well-researched mystery series in its own right.

Jewel is being marketed for young adult readers, but any fans of Holmes who enjoy entertaining and very well-written stories will enjoy it. At the same time, it is certainly appropriate for younger readers who have the maturity to comprehend the content, and Portia Adams is an unusually positive role model.

I’m encouraged by the trend toward a positively feminist voice in the contemporary world of Sherlock Holmes, and Jewel of the Thames is, in my opinion, one of the best contributions to this cause that I’ve ever encountered. It carries my strongest recommendation to fans of Holmes and would be an outstanding way to introduce new fans to Sherlock Holmes.

One top of being a great book, Jewel of the Thames carries an almost ridiculously reasonable price tag, so you have absolutely no reason to miss it. Get it here.

The above-reviewed work was provided for consideration by the author. All opinions expressed are the reviewer’s own.

 

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How to get my newest book:

(Book 3) The Detective The Woman and The Silent Hive is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide from Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle.

How to get the previous two books in the series:

(Book 1) The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 2) The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

Book Review: The Remedy

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The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis

By Thomas Goetz

It’s not often that I have a chance to review Holmes-related nonfiction, and it’s an even rarer pleasure to encounter a book as well-researched and engagingly written as The Remedy. Author Thomas Goetz skillfully weaves together a story that explores the origins of germ theory and uses the medical and scientific context of the Victorian Period to illuminate and explain the life and work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

The book is certainly not for the faint of heart. Its impressive attention to detail leads to a high page count, but readability is never sacrificed. Fans of Holmes may be confused by the fact that Doyle doesn’t appear for quite a while, but it’s worth the wait and the effort to understand the historical circumstances Goetz weaves around him.

The Sherlock Holmes stories are wonderful in and of themselves, but books like The Remedy remind readers that they weren’t written in a vacuum. The actions of people like Dr. Joseph Bell and groundbreaking researcher Robert Koch had a direct hand in the life of Doyle, and Goetz makes an impressive case for how much influence they had on the formation of Sherlock Holmes.

The Remedy is an impressive achievement, a book that manages to be densely informative without being at all dense to consume. Goetz’s writing style is pointed, clear, objective, and surprisingly entertaining. Doyle fans who want to dig deeper into the circumstances that led to the creation of Sherlock Holmes will find it a rare treat, and it will be even more appreciated by those who also have a secondary interest in medical or scientific history.

Purchase it here.

A copy of The Remedy was provided for consideration by the publisher. All viewpoints expressed are the author’s own.

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How to get my books:

(Book 3) The Detective The Woman and The Silent Hive is available from all good bookstores including   Amazon USAAmazon UKWaterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide from Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle.

How to get the previous two books in the series:

(Book 1) The Detective and the Woman: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.

(Book 2) The Detective, The Woman and The Winking Tree: A Novel of Sherlock Holmes is available from all good bookstores and e-bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Classic Specialities – and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle , iTunes(iPad/iPhone) and Kobo.