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review 2016-09-26 08:49
Review: The Whole Art of Detection
The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes - Lyndsay Faye
"I require your assistance, and you suppose you're too good for my money! Well, you aren't, Mr. Holmes!" "On the contrary. I suspect that I've been too good for better people's money as a matter of fact."

The cases Holmes investigates in pastiches are often grand and important. Conspiracies that involve powerful people. Killers that are so clever nobody but Holmes even knows that they're out there. Cases where the future of the world is at stake (or worse: The future of England). That doesn't have to be a bad thing but to me the point of the original stories has always been that Holmes didn't investigate important cases. He investigated interesting cases. And sometimes it would turn out that there wasn't even a crime behind it all, only an interesting story. But that was enough.

 

The Whole Art of Detection captures exactly that spirit. All but one stories are about mundane things but that doesn't mean that they're boring. Just because somebody's actions don't have far-reaching consequences doesn't mean they can't do really clever things that are interesting to read about.

Now in some of the stories the solution was quite easy to guess which is a minor drawback but since I enjoyed everything else about them so much I didn't really mind it. Especially because apart from engaging mysteries Faye is also great at writing the relationship between Holmes and Watson and showing how much they care about each other. If you want to be nit-picky you might argue that it's a bit too much. Not because they express their emotions in a manner that would have been inappropriate for Victorian gentlemen but because almost every story has a few lines (or more) that show that, while Conan Doyle used such scenes very sparsely. I, however, am not nit-picky about that. I just enjoy it very much.

 

ARC received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2016-03-12 13:30
Review: Dust and Shadow
Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson - Lyndsay Faye

I have a complicated relationship with Jack the Ripper fiction. I really want to like it but I rarely do. In fact, the only one I really enjoyed was Melanie Clegg's From Whitechapel and you could argue that it is more a novel that uses the case as background than an actual Ripper-novel.

My track-record with Holmes meets the Ripper fiction is even worse. In the best case, I found them totally forgettable but mostly they were so horrid that I wanted to rip them into little pieces.

Dust and Shadow is different. I love it. It's a great Holmes-pastiche. Faye catches the voice of Watson perfectly. I also didn't feel that her Watson was too stupid or her Holmes too cold, both are things that often ruin Holmes pastiches for me.

It's also a great fictional account of the Ripper killings. With the focus on fictional. I don't mean that Faye didn't do her research (she definitely did), but in reality, there was no Sherlock Holmes involved in the investigation. The fact that here he was does change some minor things because the Ripper reacts to Holmes' involvement. I think only absolute purists can object to the way this was handled. I found it very well done (and I have often grumbled over stuff like this ^^).

The whole subject is also treated with the respect it deserves. Of course, this is the true story of the brutal killings of several women and you can certainly argue that it is always ghoulish to read/watch/listen/play anything inspired by something like that. I know that there are people who wouldn't do that under any circumstances and I am aware that my enjoyment of these stories might be a bit questionable...

But there are different ways to treat this case (I actually read a story once in which the author thanked Jack the Ripper in the foreword because he inspired so many authors...really). This book never forgets that the victims were people and the characters act accordingly.

 

Then there is of course the question of the ending. It won't be a spoiler when I tell you that this book doesn't stray so far from the historical facts that the Ripper is caught and everybody is happy. I've seen various ways the question 'Why didn't they say anything when they knew who it was' (if in fact they found out...) was handled and I have to say that I liked this one best so far. It made sense and was not out of character for Holmes.

 

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review 2016-01-24 07:57
Review: The Baker Street Phantom
The Baker Street Phantom - Morag Young,Fabrice Bourland

In the spring of 1932, with Londoners terrorised by a series of brutal murders, the private detective agency of Messrs. Singleton and Trelawney quietly opens its doors in Bloomsbury.

The first person to call on their services is a worried Lady Arthur Conan Doyle. She tells of mysterious events at 221 Baker Street – and a premonition that the London murders signal terrible danger for mankind.

Their investigation will take our intrepid heroes into a world of séances and spirits. Aided by the most famous detective of all time, they must draw on their knowledge of the imaginary to find the perpetrators of some very real and bloody crimes before they strike again…

 

 

It almost has to be admired how the author takes an awesome idea and tells it in almost the most boring way imaginable. Because of magic characters from famous Victorian novels appear on the streets of London. There is Sherlock Holmes - which is very cool - and there are Dorian Gray, Mr. Hyde, Dracula, and Jack the Ripper (it makes sense in context even though he is not a character from a novel) -which is less cool because they just continue what they did in the novels: kill people.

How do you mess such a great idea up? Easily: you take out any conflict and therefore, any excitement. The majority of the murders have already been committed by the time the novel starts and Singleton, our hero, just reads about them in the newspaper. (Conveniently all the murders are summed up in one article, despite there being huge differences in the MO). Since the paper also mentions where the murders have been committed he immediately makes the connection between that an 'all these places are mentioned in Dracula, Dorian Gray etc.' 

Of course, that does not mean that he immediately goes 'clearly novel characters have been going round murdering people' but it doesn't take him long to get there. Shortly afterwards he attends a séance, despite not believing in the spiritual things and that one séance is enough to change his opinion on everything. Mediums are not all fake. A connection to the afterworld is possible. And not much later: the killer was probably Dracula.

And everything in the book is like this. There never is time for you to worry if the characters will get out of a dangerous situation/get somewhere in time because those are all resolved as quickly as the characters change their minds on long-held beliefs.

Talking about characters: they also couldn't save it. They remained so colourless that I could barely remember their names while reading the book.

 

ARC received from NetGalley.

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review 2014-09-11 08:10
Review: wo Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets
Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets: An Anthology of Holmesian Tales Across Time and Space - Guy Adams,Glen Mehn,Kasey Lansdale

That could have been better, some stories were good but I wouldn't recommend getting the book just for those.

Review on Bibliodaze

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text 2014-09-04 09:22
Reading progress update: I've read 22%.
Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets: An Anthology of Holmesian Tales Across Time and Space - Guy Adams,Glen Mehn,Kasey Lansdale

Has anybody ever read a Holmes.story where actual magic was involved? Because there was just one and I'm not sure what to think of it. It just seems to go against everything that is Holmes...or it's just the fact that Holmes is not at all surprised by the fact that black magic is involved and just goes 'yeah of course, I expected the bad guy to be a shape-changer'.

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