Greetings from The Raven!

Oct. 30, 2018

The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part XII edited by David Marcum

My thanks go out to Steve and Timi at MX Publishing for my copy of this book. Keep the stories coming!

This is volume XII in this ongoing series. Much like volume XI, the stories a based upon cases Watson mentions in the canon. There are a surprising number of these cases throughout Doyle’s written cases. Many readers will be familiar with the cases these stories recount. Most of these stories are very good indeed!

I must say I have enjoyed this entire series! I will give a short word on each story as usual. I really do try to avoid major spoilers, but be warned anyway. I use the four-letter abbreviations as listed here.

Let us begin:

  • “The Shanghaied Surgeon” by CH Dye

The title probably explains anything I could add. The story is based on a case mentioned in NORW.

  • “The Trusted Advisor” by David Marcum

Holmes has only recently returned to Baker Street following his encounter with Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls. Who is this mysterious “Sherlock Holmes of the Business World?” This story is based on a premise from BRUC rather than a specifically mentioned case. Nice one, David!

  • “A Shame Harder than Death” by Thomas Fortenberry

This case is mentioned in passing in GOLD. The contents of an old English barrow cause concerns for archeologists who are studying the ancient site. Holmes is called in on a case where at least one official believes it might have supernatural causes. The story has a sad but absolutely ingenious twist!

  • “The Adventure of the Smith-Mortimer Succession” by Daniel D Victor

The case is noted in GOLD. I must give Daniel kudos for a truly original twist!

  • “A Repulsive Story and a Terrible Death” by Nik Morton

Much like the title, the story combines parts of the red leech and Crosby the banker, both mentioned in GOLD. I award kudos for a remarkable job of fitting the cases together! Other authors I have read make two cases—The Red Leech and Crosby the Banker.

  • “The Adventure of the Dishonorable Discharge” by Craig Janacek

The story is based on a case mentioned in WIST. Even to mention the case might give away too much. I give kudos for a most remarkable garden!

  • “The Adventure of the Admirable Patriot” by S Subramanian

The story is based on notes from VEIL. Mentioning any more might give away a great twist! Kudos for the unique way of presenting this case!

  • “The Abernetty Transactions” by Jim French

This one is based on a case from SIXN. The story is presented as a play. I always wonder how an author will bring the parsley and butter into the story!

  • “Dr. Agar and the Dinosaur” by Robert Stapleton

The tale is mentioned in DEVI. A villain from Watson’s past and an ancient dino skull make a good story.

  • “The Giant Rat of Sumatra” by Nick Cardillo

This case is mentioned in SUSS. This is the second Giant Rat story in this series, and around the eighth version that I have read. This tale has what a lot of Giant Rat stories lack, a real reason why the “world is not yet prepared” to read it! The author deserves kudos for the build-up to the awesome encounter! Well done! Best in Book!

  • “The Adventure of the Black Plague” by Paul D Gilbert

The story of Wilson the Notorious Canary Trainer is mentioned in BLAC. I think this is the most entertaining version of this story I have read! Bravo!

  • “Vigor the Hammersmith Wonder” by Mike Hogan

The case is mentioned in SUSS. I didn’t like this one very much. I found the phrase “packaged by white women of a Quaker character” on page 268 to be off-putting. I suppose as a relic of the times it is apt, but I didn’t like it. This one gets the last place ribbon…

  • “A Correspondence Concerning Mr. James Phillimore” by Derrick Belanger

The case is referenced in THOR. I have read another author’s version that has the same principle, but the ins and outs of getting to that end are widely different. The aftermath of the disappearance is also different. Overall, a nice little solution to the case!

  • “The Curious Case of the Two Coptic Patriarchs” by John Linwood Grant

The case is based on a note from RETI. You might want to look up Coptic in Wikipedia prior to reading this one. It isn’t necessary, per se, but it puts the story in better perspective…

  • “The Conk-Singleton Forgery Case” by Mark Mower

Based on a case mentioned in SIXN, this one has a very singular bit of forgery! It seems this man has a unique collection…

  • “Another Case of Identity” by Jane Rubino

Of course, the title references IDEN, but the notes about the story are in PRIO. I must give kudos for the returning villain and a truly great cover identity!

  • “The Adventure of the Exalted Victim” by Arthur Hall

The story is referenced in LADY. This is the tale of old Abrahams, whose fear for his life was used as an excuse to send Watson to France. Despite the claim that “he could not leave the country” Holmes tailed Watson, something that still makes no sense to me! This story is good, not great, but good.

Now we have come to the end of another volume of MX New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I give this volume 4.5 stars!

Quoth the Raven…

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Oct. 30, 2018

The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part XI edited by David Marcum

My thanks go out to Steve and Timi at MX Publishing for my copy of this book. Keep the stories coming!

This is the 11th book in this on-going series. The stories in this book are all based on cases Watson mentions in the canon, but never appeared in print. There are a surprising number of these cases throughout Doyle’s written cases. Many readers will be familiar with the cases these stories recount. Most of these stories are very good indeed!

I must say I have enjoyed this entire series! I will give a short word on each story as usual. I really do try to avoid major spoilers, but be warned anyway. I use the four-letter abbreviations as listed here.

  • “The Most Repellant Man” by Jayanitka Ganguly

This story is referenced by Watson in SIGN. This seems a lot like a lead-in to an adventure that never actually gets there…

  • “The Singular Adventure of the Extinguished Wicks” by Will Murray

First of all, I must give kudos to Will for that imaginative title! This is the tale of “Merridew of abominable memory” referenced in EMPT. Another winner, Will!

  • “Mrs. Forester’s Complications” by Robert Riccard

The case this is based on Mary Morstan’s comments in SIGN when she brought her troubles to Holmes. Told by Holmes to Watson, Mary, Mrs. Hudson, and Mrs. Forester, it is a mystery concerning Mr. Forester…

  • “The Adventure of Vittoria the Circus Belle” by Tracy Revels

The story is mentioned in SUSS. I found this a delightful take on this strange adventure!

  • “The Adventure of the Silver Skull” by Hugh Ashton

Many readers will recognize Hugh as the author of many tales based on the unrecorded cases Watson mentions in passing. This is based on the Tankerville Club scandal referenced in FIVE. Kudos for the major villain!

  • “The Pimlico Poisoner” by Matthew Simmonds

The case is touched upon in VALL. Inspector MacDonald goes toe to toe with a curious crime ring…

  • “The Grosvenor Square Furniture Van” by David Ruffle

This was a bit of a letdown, as it reveals little more than the mention in NOBL. I’m sorry, but this is not up to Ruffle’s usual level…

  • “The Adventure of the Paradol Chamber” by Paul W Nash

This adventure is noted in FIVE. A crime fiction writer is being threatened. I found it a bit bland…

  • “the Bishopgate Jewel Case” by Mike Hogan

This case is mentioned in SIGN. This was Holmes’ introduction to Altheney Jones. The case concerns a man accused of theft. I liked the interplay between Holmes and the Inspector!

  • “The Singular Tragedy of the Atkinson Brothers at Trincomalee” by Craig Stephen Copeland

The case was mentioned in SCAN. I must admit that this is a most imaginative story. It might be a tad predictable, but I loved it anyway!

  • “Colonel Warburton’s Madness” by Gale Lange Puhl

This one gets my vote for best in the book! An entertaining account of a story mentioned in ENGR, this one scores for solving the mystery of Watson’s Wayward Wound!

  • “The Adventure at Bellingbeck Park” by Deanna Baran

The story is referenced in GREE. It was a nice story to be based on so little data!

  • “The Giant Rat of Sumatra” by Leslie Chartiers and Denis Green

This is a radio play based on a note in SUSS. I have a little problem with stories based on this case. They need to have the giant rat, and most do a good job there. But there is a second stipulation. Holmes uses the words “a story for which the world is not yet prepared.” That would indicate that it is perhaps too weird or too damaging to people of nobility. There is neither in this case. I like it the least…

  • “The Vatican Cameos” by Kevin P Thornton

This one is based on a reference from HOUN. The story is about certain beliefs and the Catholic Church. I have a friend whose entire Holmes trilogy is based around these beliefs. Check here.

  • “The Case of the Gila Monster” by Stephen Herczeg

Mentioned in SUSS, the Gila monster is a venomous lizard of the American southwest. Kudos go out to the author for researching the Gila monster’s venom. A lot of people get that part of the story wrong…

  • “The Bogus Laundry Affair” by Robert Perret

This case has a note in CARD. The laundry in the story is most unusual...

  • “Inspector Lestrade and the Molesey Mystery” by IA Watson and Richard Dean Starr

This is a case starring Inspector Lestrade, mentioned by Holmes in EMPT. Not a Holmes story per se, but welcome as this was a case Holmes complimented Lestrade on in a sort of awkward fashion…

I was a bit surprised by the number of stories in this volume that just didn’t speak to me. In my defense, I have several books with versions of the cases. With some of these stories, I would have liked them better had I read them first. The volume still rates four stars!

Quoth the Raven…

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Oct. 13, 2018

Book of the Just

Dana Chamblee Carpenter

I assume that most people reading this are already acquainted with Mouse and her lineage. Introduced in The Bohemian Gospel, Mouse has powers inherited from her demonic father. Still, all she really wants is to live a peaceful, normal life.

This book picks up from the end of the second novel, The Devil’s Bible. In that book, Mouse battles with her father, who is not someone to cross lightly. Left for dead, Mouse has a long, slow recovery. Her father now intends to raise another to do his bidding—her brother, Luc…

Now, Mouse and her paramour Angelo D’Amato follow a series of clues that point the way to a powerful artifact. The Book of the Just could be the very thing they need to defeat her father. They are hampered and chased by the Novus Rishi, lead by a man known as The Reverend. Jack Gray, introduced in the previous volume, works on behalf of this religious cult…

It’s strange sometimes how things work out. I loved the first volume of this series and disliked the second. Now moving on to volume three, I was amazed at the drawing power of the prose.

From the beginning to the monumental climax this book entices the reader into continuing reading. Warning, you may find yourself fighting sleep in order to finish. I give the book four stars.

Quoth the Raven...

This book is not quite out as of yet

Oct. 13, 2018

Bloodmoon: A Sister Fidelma Mystery

Peter Tremayne, author

I assume that those reading this review know the history of Fidelma of Cashel, once Sister Fidelma of Kildare. The mystery solving dàlaigh of the Irish court system is aided by Brother Eadulf of Seaxmund’s Ham, her husband.

The wife of the High King of Ireland is on a secret journey to an obscure abbey. Fidelma and Eadulf are themselves on a journey that will end at the same place.

Along the way, they are menaced and attacked by raiders using crossbows. A mysterious religious seems to always be in the background. He is at the first abbey they visit, he is on a warship when Fidelma is kidnapped and haunts the pair all through the adventure.

Murders and attacks fill the story until the final reveal.

I liked this story, but I don’t think it was Tremayne at his best. The story lacks a bit in continuity, and it drags at times. I give it three stars…

Quoth the Raven…

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Oct. 13, 2018
  • A Rival from the Grave: The Complete Adventures 0f Jules de Grandin Volume Four

    Seabury Quinn, author.

    The conceited blonde French occultist rides again!

    Jules de Grandin was an occult detective in the same vein as Carnacki the Ghost-Finder and John Silence. The stories were published in Weird Tales, a 1930’s and 1940’s pulp magazine that also featured the stories of HP Lovecraft (Cthulhu Mythos) and Robert E Howard (Conan.)

    De Grandin is a Frenchman, small and blond haired with tiny feet. He is irascible and totally convinced of his own importance. He appears to be an expert in any type of monster hunting, from vampires to ghosts. He knows strange lore from many lands, having actually lived for a time in such far-flung locations as Laos and Tibet.

    As a detective, he is a former member of the French Sûreté. The stories in this book happen to feature a colleague of de Grandin, the diminutive Inspector Renouard.

    According to an official list of Jules de Grandin stories, there is perhaps enough left for one more volume. I’m looking forward to it. I want to touch briefly on each tale. I try to give no spoilers, but a warning here soothes the folks who fear them!

    • “The Chosen of Vishnu” deals with a Western woman who was raised in a temple in India. Upon escaping to the USA, she is tracked by devotees… Kudus for the marigolds!
    • “The Malay Horror” concerns a lady haunted by a most unusual ghost…
    • “The Mansion of Unholy Magic” is a story of the Putnam Mansion. The estate is haunted by crowds of bloodthirsty cadavers…
    • “Red Gauntlets” is a case of possession by an evil spirit…
    • “The Red Knife of Hassan” presents the case of a woman’s body dredged from the bay. It sets in motion a battle with an ancient cult of assassins.
    • “The Jest of Warburg Tantuval” concerns a man who plans devilry for his son and wife. It will be from beyond the Grave! Best in Book!
    • “The Hands of the Dead” is about a young woman maimed by a horrible accident. After surgery, she finds she has skills she did not have before…
    • “The Black Orchid deals with a man and his niece. For some reason, they are suffering from blood loss, as if a vampire was loose in the house…
    • “The Dead Alive Mummy” is a dark tale of an unearthed mummy. The tablet in its sarcophagus promises that the mummy will live again…
    • “A Rival from the Grave” involves a man named Frasier Taviton. When his wife passes away, he remarries. The event sets off a horrific haunting. Kudos for the use of x-rays! Who you gonna call?
    • “The Witch House” tells the story of a young woman accused of witchcraft and drowned as punishment. After 200 years, another young woman finds herself in danger. What a strange little white kitten!
    • “Children of the Bat” is a story of a deadly lady. A woman is found crucified to the wall of a nightclub, the victim of a Mexican Secret Society. A message is found inscribed on a bat’s wing left at the scene…
    • “The Devil’s Palmist” is a tale of a religious icon concealing a secret evil…
    • “Pledged to the Dead” is about the graveyards of haunted New Orleans and a pale young lady apparently living there. Kudos for the snake!
    • “The Living Buddhess” features a young woman possessed by an Oriental spirit…
    • “Flames of Vengeance” deals with a family under a curse that was first placed on an ancestor while he was in India…
    • “Frozen Beauty” presents the tale of a young woman whose body has been frozen in dry ice…
    • “Incense of Abomination” concerns devil worship and young men driven to suicide…

    This book is great! The volumes are nice and look good on the shelf. I give it five stars and look forward to volume five!

    Quoth the  Raven...

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