Greetings from The Raven!

May. 18, 2017

The Nightwalker: A Novel by Sebastian Fitzek

My thanks to my contacts at Pegasus Books, Iris Blasi, Katie McGuire, and Maia Larson, for my advance reading copy of this book. You ladies rock!

This book has been one of the most eerie psychological thrillers I have ever read. I have read it twice now and thoroughly enjoyed it and still I couldn’t tell what the ending really means.

Now you might think that would be a black mark against the author, to write a book that leaves the ending so vague. Not so! That is what makes this story the masterpiece that it is! From the beginning it is certain that things might take place in the real world, a dream, or while in a sleepwalking/sleep paralysis state.

Our main focus is on Leon Nader and his wife Natilie. Leon has suffered with his sleep paralysis and sleepwalking for his entire life. Upon coming around one morning, he sees his wife packing her things. She says she needs space and walks out. Leon is distraught, and makes contact with a Psychiatrist that he used to visit as a boy. Things begin to get weirder the further the story goes.

Leon uses a head mounted night vision camera to track his wanderings during the night. When he plays back the recordings, he cannot believe what he sees. He tries to backtrack himself with the videos for reference and discovers that at least part of what he has experienced is real.

There are jump scares throughout as things happen that only confuse Leon further. Finding a ringing cell phone he notices that it is Natalie’s. The problem is that he has been calling her often and leaving messages. If the phone had been where he found it, he should have heard the thing ring the whole time.

That isn’t the only thing that is confusing to Leon. He believes he can hear Natalie in the Apartment Building and hunts for her only to find that what he thought happened wasn’t real. He sees himself attack another tenant on video, and his paranoia and mania begin to spiral out of control…

This book deserves its own horror movie! It would be so great! The only drawback I see is how to interpret the end—. The line between real and dream state is very blurry and I don’t really know which wins in the end. It could not have been better written! Bravo, Sebastian! And encore!

I give the book five stars plus!

Quoth the Raven…

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May. 18, 2017

Sherlock Holmes A Betrayal In Blood by Mark Latham

It was probably destiny that people would connect the World’s Greatest Detective and the World’s Worst Vampire as they occur at the same period in time. The meeting of the two has been explored by more than one author. Some follow the tale of Dracula closely, guided by the times when it would have been logical to find Holmes involved.

After all there was a Police investigation into the case of the children harmed by “The Bloofer Lady.” The incident even made it into the papers, and any Holmes aficionado knows how Holmes devoured any strange report in the papers! That alone would have sent Holmes on the hunt.

What makes this story different is the choice of villain. What if Dracula wasn’t evil? What if he wasn’t even a vampire? What is the story were carefully contrived to cover up a murder…

Holmes finds himself faced with an implacable foe, one who has wealth and influence. Holmes may suspect the truth behind the “Dracula Papers,” but being able to bring the truth to court where the bad guys would face justice is something else altogether…

The battle takes place through all the landmarks made famous in the novel by Bram Stoker. Transylvania, Whitby, Doctor Seward’s Asylum, Carfax, the home of Lucy Westenra, the Law Office where Jonathan Harker worked, the sailing ship Demeter—all of these places feature in this unique tale! The story even ends in the same place as Dracula—Transylvania!

I liked this tale a lot! I give the book five stars!

Quoth the Raven…

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May. 18, 2017

Test of the Professionals I: The Adventure of the Flying Blue Pidgeon by Marcia Wilson

My thanks to Steve and Timi at MX Publishing for my review copy of this book. You guys have been most generous.

This is a case that follows Inspector Lestrade as he attempts to solve a mystery involving the Irish Rebellion.

There has been a rash of thefts in London. Roofing lead seems to be vanishing from rooftops all across London. With the loss of the lead there have been roofs collapsing. Clea Cheatham reports the theft of parts of her inventory. The goods are packed in specialized barrels and have been going missing a few at a time.

Lestrade has been chatting up Clea, who owns her own tavern. Clea comes from a line of wrestlers who make their living by the fights and is the only girl in a large family.

 They disapprove of Lestrade and the flame is being fanned by a man named Jethro Quimper. Quimper has the Cheatham family in his grasp and he wants Clea. The Cheathams are poor now, but they still have a respectable name. Quimper wants to marry his money to their respectability. 

We are given a flash into Lestrade’s past as his parents have been murdered. A cryptic message at the scene reads “She was mine.” It seems that Lestrade’s mother was forced to make a choice of suitors, and chose Lestrade’s father. Her other beau had recently escaped from prison…

Between the continuing drama of Lestrade and Clea, the rash of thefts, and the Fenian Threat, enough mystery is going on to satisfy the reader. I did find the action sometimes disjointed, but there is a solid story here.

I give the book four stars…

Quoth the Raven…

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May. 18, 2017

Queensberry Justice: The Fight Card Sherlock Holmes Omnibus— Kindle® Edition by Andrew Salmon

My appreciation to Andrew Salmon for this copy of his work.

As stated in the foreword, the Fight Card series was inspired by pulp tales such as the Sailor Steve Costigan tales from the pen of prolific pulp master Robert E Howard. The idea was to write pulp fiction novelettes with a boxing theme central to the plot. This was later revised to include various other forms of unarmed combat.

Sherlock Holmes fans may remember that Holmes was proficient in boxing, single-stick fighting, and baritsu. Watson records Holmes’ amateur match with a professional bare-knuckle boxer; and his “straight left against a slogging ruffian” which sent Mr. Woodley home in a cart. 

Andrew Salmon has used these references to good use in writing the three Fight Card: Sherlock Holmes adventures that make up this omnibus.  Each adventure is a genuine Sherlock Holmes tale of logic and deduction but part of the story finds Holmes in the world of underground bare-knuckle fighting. In the case of these stories the fighting and the mystery are so well paired that one could not exist without the other. Holmes may be going primal in the ring but the cold logic of his thinking makes him all the more deadly.

I like the nod to Holmes’ step by step thinking displayed in the Robert Downey Holmes movie. The stories are spiced further with Victorian slang and expressions which are all referenced in the glossary at the end.

The first tale, “Work Capitol,” is a murder mystery that has Holmes face off with the deadliest fighter in London and perhaps of all England. This man would never hesitate to kill Holmes in the ring, and he has the skill set to do just that! If Holmes cannot survive the fight, the murderer will walk. But things are never quite what they seem when Sherlock Holmes is involved…

The second tale is named “Blood to the Bone.” Holmes is not alone in his fights in the ring; a lady boxer named Eby Stokes is also fighting for the cause. This is a case of the Irish Uprising. Mycroft is involved, as the mystery involves National Security. The Boxing Ring, a circus, and a train add to the mystery!

The third tale is called “Taking Ground.” A returning foe with a vengeful spirit wants Holmes dead. Watson is also marked for death. Holmes is older now, but he must venture into the ring one final time before the case can rest. It is a battle Holmes will never forget.

The three stories are connected with short stories written specifically for this omnibus and found nowhere else. Icing on the cake if you will! Andrew Salmon’s comments are also included, with an alternate chapter from a differing point of view in “Blood to the Bone.”

Andrew, you have done one incredibly awesome job in this work! I gladly give this collection five stars plus!

Quoth the Raven…

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May. 18, 2017

Irregular Lives The Untold Story of Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars by Kim Krisco

My thanks to Steve and Timi at MX Publishing for my review copy of this book. You guys have been most generous.

This has been most fascinating! I believe this book fills a place that has too long been missing from the world of Sherlock Holmes. The Baker Street Irregulars feature in many of the canonical stories, yet other than Wiggins we seldom know their names. Even with Wiggins mentioned, his life outside of being one of Holmes eyes and ears is a total blank.

This book explores the boys (and girls) that make up the Baker Street Irregulars. Holmes has retired to his bees on the Sussex Downs when he receives a post about a photographic display in London. The display is by SP Fields and is called “Irregular Lives.” The featured youths are members of Holmes’ band of Irregulars…

The youths have become adults, and some have been more prosperous than others. Someone is reaching out through this display, someone who wants to reunite the gang. This person also wants to bring Holmes and Watson together with the grown-up Irregulars.

But one of the old gang may be in too much trouble…

I loved the book although I really felt the ending was so sad! I give the book five stars! I would love to see this point explored even further! Good show, Kim Krisco! Bravo and encore!

Quoth the Raven…

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