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review 2020-06-25 10:50
Poison in Paddington (Cassie Coburn Mysteries) by Samantha Silver

From the Amazon page: When Cassie Coburn moved to London, she never thought she'd be involved in a quadruple homicide. After a car accident ended her medical career before it even started, Cassie moved to London on a whim, expecting to see the sights and live the typical tourist backpacker lifestyle. Instead she finds herself accompanying a French private detective, Violet Despuis, as they attempt to find out who poisoned four people in the middle of London. Cassie's life soon includes this crazy detective, an ancient landlady with a curious past, a mischievous orange cat who likes going for walks on a leash, and a super hot pathologist that Cassie is sure is out of her league. And they haven't even found the murderer yet...The Cassie Coburn mysteries are a cozy mystery series featuring a Sherlock-Holmes style sleuth. If you want a light, fun, modern mystery featuring a San Francisco girl totally out of her element in London, and a crazy French woman who happens to be very good at noticing things, then this is the series for you.

As it says, it’s a Sherlock Holmes-style story. It was pretty obvious, though both ’Sherlock’ and ’Watson’ have their genders changed. All I can say is I like the characters, mainly Cassie. Violet is quite a bit like Sherlock - arrogant and a bit abrupt, but fun in a way. The story is well written and as I said, because I like the characters I wanted to find out what would happen. I also enjoyed reading about how Cassie made herself at home in London. As someone who has moved quite a few times in the past year, this made me nod in recognition at some of her experiences. The book is no longer free, except as an audio book, as part of an Audible trial. The paperback isn’t that expensive, and I would probably have bought it if I’d known how good it was.

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review 2020-06-20 17:18
Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? by Paul Cornell
Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? - Paul Cornell

Series: Shadow Police #3


I was a bit annoyed throughout the first part of this book because they kept making references to stuff that happened in previous books without really explaining them, and since I can barely remember the previous book, this was frustrating. And a little repetitive. However, even though the first half of the book was a bit of a slog, the resolution made it worthwhile. These books may be a good candidate for an audio reread at some point.


Technically this series was cut short but I felt that this third book managed to wrap up enough ends that although yes, there would be further things to explore in this world, I’m not frustrated with a lack of answers. The whole thing where they were trying to investigate who killed a fictional character was fun too.


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review 2020-05-17 04:29
The Last (and Least) of Sherlock Holmes
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle

This volume contains the last two collections of Sherlock Holmes stories by Doyle. The book places Casebook first, followed by His Last Bow, although the Casebook stories were written and published after Bow. The reason for the reversal of order is that the title story of His Last Bow features an older Holmes coming out of retirement to serve as a spy catcher during World War I. It is a fitting ending place for the character, and it would have made a fine place to end the Holmes stories, but Doyle continued on.


Doyle admitted in interviews that he considered Holmes his cash cow and anytime he needed quick money he would write another Holmes story for the magazines. The stories in Casebook are not bad, but you can tell Doyle has lost interest and may have grown to dislike the character. The tone of the stories is more melodramatic than Holmes at his best. The villains are more mustache-twirly, and grizzly crime scenes are described in detail rather than being left to the reader's imagination. Two stories in Casebook are actually narrated by Holmes rather than Watson, but the results feel like a wasted opportunity. Watson always described Holmes as unfathomably brilliant, but the stories related directly by him come across almost exactly the same as Watson stories.


If you want to read the best of Sherlock Holmes, I would recommend The Adventures, Memoirs, and Return of Sherlock Holmes. Bow and Casebook are for completists.

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review 2020-05-15 01:05
Behemoth, or The Long Parliament
Behemoth, or The Long Parliament - Stephen Holmes,Ferdinand Tönnies,Thomas Hobbes

For supporters of Charles I and his son, the middle of the 17th Century was a hard time and in the aftermath of the Restoration was a time to show they were right.  Behemoth is Thomas Hobbes’ history of the lead up to the English Civil War and the resulting Interregnum.


Covering roughly two decades of political, military, cultural, and religious upheaval within the frame of a dialogue, Thomas Hobbes uses the political framework written in Leviathan to analyze the breakdown of political order and how it was restored.  The first and second section of the book concerns how Charles I strong political position was undermined by seven factions acting independently of one another and how the King’s attempts to combat one faction were used by other factions to represent tyranny against their own party eventually leading to a rupture and war between King and Parliament.  The third section covered the civil war itself with neither side getting an advantage until the rise of Oliver Cromwell turned the tide for Parliament that eventually lead to the capture of the King and after political machinations from both sides, Charles is put on trial then executed.  The last section highlights how Parliament had no idea how to replace the King and went from one solution to another all the while Cromwell continued to accumulate power until taking over the place of Charles in all but the title of King.  However, after Cromwell’s death and weakness of his son’s leadership, General Monck uses his army to takeover the political situation and invite Charles II to take the throne.


While Hobbes uses the ideas in Leviathan to frame this history, it is essentially a Royalist view of the history of the 1640s and 1650s.  Throughout the book the prime factor that Hobbes saw as being the instigator of Parliament’s position against the King wasn’t taxes, but religion more specifically Presbyterian minister preaching from the pulpit against the King so they could achieve leadership of the nation like John Calvin had done in Geneva.  Though Hobbes did mention several other factors, his obsession on the religious aspect overawed everything else in this history which at times became too much.


Behemoth is ultimately a royalist history of events in the mid-17th Century.  Thomas Hobbes shows the breakdown of political order when the sovereign’s position is challenged and usurped by those that have no right to it and the chaos that follows, but through his partisan lens.

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review 2020-04-21 12:50
"Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? - Shadow Police #3" by Paul Cornell
Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? - Paul Cornell,Damian Lynch

'The Shadow Police' series is a sort of grittier, more working-class, darker version of 'Rivers of London'. Here, magic comes from the weight of London's history, not from river goddesses. The posh folks of The Folly are replaced by a team of London coppers used to bringing down drug dealers and human traffickers and the magic keeps trying to kill them 


I found the second book "The Severed Streets" to be well-written but very depressing and soaked in sadness. The Shadow Police themselves are a major source of grief and depression. They deceive each other, distrust each other, despise themselves for the deceit and bemoan the distrust. They are reckless and desperate and well out of their depth.


I thought the third book might be more whimsical. After all, how serious can a book called 'Who Killed Sherlock Holmes' be?'.


There is a move from total despair towards hope in this book. The main characters are trying to find a way back from the damage that was done to them or that they did to themselves in the last book. I liked that Paul Cornell didn't just have everyone bounce back but recognised that actions have consequences and that dealing with evil always has a price. I also liked that he delivered on the story behind the senior police officer that the Shadow Police report in to. Her story humanised the big reveal and built her into a key character.


In 'The Severed Streets' we learned that something big had changed the way magic worked in Londo, letting loose bad things and tainting the magical community by allowing power to be paid for by money rather than personal sacrifice.


In 'Who Killed Sherlock Holmes' we learn that the change coincided with the destruction of the magical Establishment - the Continuous Projects Committee that imposes civilised control on magical forces. It's clear that, although The Establishment continued to use traditions that have kept London safe for centuries, they had forgotten why and how the protocols they use to do this operate. They'd become complacent and vulnerable to attack.


As a consequence of this::

'The real London was coming back, alongside poverty and tubercolosis and history. The civilised consensus was over.'

Suddenly, I was thinking of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, ripping apart all the shared assumptions and values that defined the England that the men and women who survived World War II had wanted to create. 


I checked the original publication date for this book. May 2016, one month before the Brexit Referendum.


It makes you wonder, If something evil broke into our world in 2016, wiping away civilised constraint, what would the world look like in 2020?


Actually, I think I know the answer to that question.


I enjoyed the book for the puzzle it solved, for the development of the story arc and for the evolution of the characters. The ending wasn't a cliff-hanger but it contained a solid hook that made me want to read book four.


Then I was told there is no book four. How can this happen? Ask the publishers.

Here's what Paul Cornell had to say about it in 2017: 'The Future Of The Shadow Police'


I hope the series comes back. I think we need a darker view of London and the people running it.

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