Greetings from The Raven!

May. 1, 2018

The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories - Part IX: 2018 Annual (1879-1895) edited by David Marcum

My thanks go out to Steve and Timi at MX Publishing for my copy of this book. May Undershaw stand forever!

David Marcum has put together another exciting volume that is Holmes to the last drop! This is volume 9 in this ongoing series that has brought great stories, poems and radio/stage plays to a willing and waiting fan base! This latest volume has something for every Holmes fan, from the truly dedicated reader to the neophyte!

I want to briefly touch on each story. I have no intention to give major spoilers, but if I do I apologize in advance. I will be naming a “Best in Book” and a “Least Liked.” Hopefully, my explanation as to why each was chosen doesn’t make me look bad… Now on with the show!

•         The book begins with a wonderful sestina from Amy Thomas called “Violet Smith—a Poem.”

•         “The Adventure of the Temperance Society” by Deanna Baran deals with thieves. I hate to start like this, but I liked this one the least. Sorry, Deanna. I felt that the cipher wasn’t explained well enough…

•         “The Adventure of the Fool and His Money: by Roger Riccard is a fine example of a story in the style of Doyle’s “The Musgrave Ritual.”

•         “The Helverton Inheritance” by David Marcum features a young man who inherits a strange house. Very good story!

•         “The Adventure of the Faithful Servant” by Tracy Revels is about a servant who fears his master has become bewitched. Kudos for the bear as a character!

•         “The Adventure of the Parisian Butcher” by Nick Cardillo is about Holmes taking a case for a rich Frenchman. Kudos for the mental picture of that hand!

•         “The Missing Empress” by Robert Stapleton is about a plot to kidnap the Queen during her Golden Jubilee. Bravo Mrs. Hudson!

•         “The Resplendent Plane Tree” by Kevin P Thornton features a most interesting villain. Kudos for that reveal! Loved it!

•         “The Strange Adventure of the Doomed Sextet” by Leslie Charteris and Denis Green is actually a radio play. I have listened to many of these radio plays but I never knew the creator of Simon Templar, aka The Saint was involved! Kudos for that information!

•         “The Adventure of the Old Boys Club: by Shane Simmons deals with the Diagnoses Club and is written by Wiggins, not Watson!

•         “The Case of the Golden Trail” by James Moffat features a colorful character from the American West. Kudos for putting Holmes in that world! Of course, he had adventures in America during the Great Hiatus, it makes perfect sense!

•         “The Detective that Cried Wolf” by CH Dye is a telling of the Camberwell case by Holmes himself! The Camberwell Poisoning Case is mentioned in passing by Watson in [FIVE].

•         “The Lambeth Poisoning Case” by Stephen Gasper takes place while Homes is assumed dead. Watson is helping the police. Kudos for the historical references!

•         “The Confession of Anna Jarrow” by SF Bennet deals with a woman who sends Holmes her confession just before she vanishes. Kudos for the uncertainties that made this story so interesting!

•         “The Adventure of the Disappearing Dictionary” by Sonia Fetherson deals with scholars who are making a dictionary of the Northumbrian dialect…

•         “The Fairy Hill Horror” by Geri Scher deals with Homes’ investigations into the missing Addleton family. I really, really loved this one. For me, this story is “Best in Book!”

•         “A Loathsome and Remarkable Adventure” by Marcia Wilson is the story of The madness of Isadora Persano (remarkable worm unknown to science) mentioned in [THOR.] Wild!

•         “The Adventures of the Multiple Moriartys” by David Friend deals with the fact that James Moriarty had brothers named James Moriarty…

•         The book winds up with “The Influence Machine” by Mark Mower, which is short, terse and not Mower’s best work. I am sorry, Mark.

I sincerely hope this series continues strong for many more books to come! The book is definitely worth five stars plus!

Quoth the Raven…

Buy It Here>

May. 1, 2018

Beyond Watson: A Sherlock Holmes Anthology of Stories NOT Told by Dr. John H. Watson 

My thanks go out to Derrick Belanger of Belanger Books for my copy of this book. I do apologize for being so long in writing this review. God bless.

In the Sherlock Holmes canon, there are only three stories that are not written by Doctor Watson. One is told by Holmes himself, and the others are told in the third person.

Of course in the vast multitude of pastiche stories, many are told in the third-person or narrated by someone other than Watson. This book is a collection of a dozen tales told by clients, irregulars, Mrs. Hudson and so on. I will only touch briefly on each story, and award what I believe is “Best in Book.”

•         In “Mrs. Hudson’s Lodger” by Geri Schear, Mrs. Hudson recounts how she came to be Holmes and Watson’s landlady…

•         “The Tarleton Affair” by David Ruffle is told in first-person by Holmes himself, with a brief aside in the words of his client…

•         “The Mortal Condition” by Marcia Wilson is an unsung commentary on a stakeout featuring Holmes, Watson, and Lestrade…

•         “Some Notes upon the Matter of John Douglas” by David Marcum explores further the novel “The Valley of Fear.” The story is narrated in altering statements by Colonel Moran and Doctor Watson…

•         “The Curse of Cairgannham” by Don Everett Smith is an excellent mystery involving dying apple trees and a masked man known as the Master! Kudos for such a magnificent character! I give this story “Best in Book!”

•         “The Tiger’s Master” by Luke Benjamine Kuhns is narrated by Violet Thane, nee Hunter, a former client from “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches.”

•         “Kidnapped” by Elizabeth Varadan by Miss Imogene, whose mother was a former client of Sherlock Holmes. The story is also narrated by Mrs. Parker, a servant at Imogene's home. Kudos for “The Walrus Detective Agency!”

•         “The Adventure of the White Cedar Hotel” by Kieran Lyne is told by

Mr. Percival Tremayne who works for the titular establishment, which is very strange indeed!

•         “In the Midday Sun” by Daniel D. Victor is related by Billy the Page Boy, AKA Ramon Chandler. Billy meets a little tramp…

•         “A Lesson in Mercy” by Richard Paolinelli is told by none other than Sir Winston Churchill!!

•         “The Last Equation” by Jack McDevitt is told by Henry Mencken. What if Moriarty had a rival for criminal mastermind?

•         “Yes, Virginia, There is a Sherlock Holmes” by Derrick Belanger rounds out the book with a bang! Told from the viewpoint of New York postman Bert Provencher, the story ends with a twist that is genius! I must give this one runner-up for “Best in Book.” I can almost guarantee you won’t see the ending coming!

This book is a treasure for any Holmes aficionado! I give the book five stars plus!

Quoth the Raven…

Buy It Here>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May. 1, 2018

Bibliomysteries: Stories of Crime in the World of Books and Bookstores edited by Otto Penzler

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

This is a volume of fifteen short tales that are mysteries that evolve bookstores, book collections, rare books, authors, etc. They vary in length but most have been written very well. I really enjoyed the book!

I want to touch on each story briefly. I do not intend to give major spoilers but maybe a warning should be given.

  • "An Acceptable Sacrifice" by Jeffery Deaver deals with a Mexican drug lord with a taste for rare books.
  • "Pronghorns of the Third Reich" by CJ Box deals with a man who believes himself wronged and seeks a book collection in order to square things. Kudos for being based on a single genuine historic photo!
  • "The Book of Virtue" by Ken Bruen is next. Told in the first person, it deals with an inheritance that consists of a single book. I didn't really get whatever the author was trying to say. I liked this one the least. Sorry, Ken…
  • "The Books of Ghosts" by Reed Farrell Coleman was a very interesting story. The Book of Ghosts is about a legendary book said to be written in a Nazi Concentration Camp. The historical part of this story is an insight into the horror of camps like Auschwitz… This story is the runner-up for "Best in Book…"
  • "The Final Testament" by Peter Blauner is a nice piece of historical fiction dealing with Sigmund Freud!
  • "What's in a Name?" by Thomas H Cook relates the story of a world where WWII never took place. In this alternate history, a man is trying to publish a controversial book. Excellent!
  • In the "Book Club" by Loren D Estleman, the prolific author's hero is a former detective turned bookseller!
  • "Death Leaves a Bookmark" by William Link deals with a certain Lieutenant Columbo, who likely needs no introduction!
  • In "The Book Thing" by Laura Lipton, the author writes about a real-world bookstore where all books are free.
  • "The Scroll" by Anne Perry deals with a scroll found inside an old volume from an estate sale, which has very strange properties…
  • The next story is "It's in the Book" by Mickey Spillane and Max Allen Collins. Max Allen Collins writes featuring Micky Spillane's character Mike Hammer…
  • "The Long Sonata of the Dead" by Andrew Taylor finds two old foes running into each other at the London Library…
  • In "Rides a Stranger" by David Bell, a man discovers that his father may have written a rare book…
  • "The Caxton Lending Library" by John Connolly deals with a most unusual library in a most unusual place. This story is most definitely worthy of the award of "Best in Book!"
  • "The Bookcase" by Nelson DeMille tells of a man who died when his heavy bookcase fell on him. Was it an accident, suicide, or murder?

This book is a worthy addition to any mystery lover's collection! I give the volume five stars!

Quoth the Raven…

Buy It Here>

Apr. 15, 2018

 Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective Volume 11

The series continues in this latest volume by our usual intrepid authors!

This ongoing series seems to be extremely popular with readers! The volumes always contain the best in Airship 27 Hangers’ rotation of mystery writers! There are four exciting stories in this volume. I will be very careful so as to not ruin reading for future readers:

“The Scotland Yard Murder” by IA Watson is based on a historic event. During the Jack the Ripper killings, a woman’s torso is discovered inside the site of what will become “The New Scotland Yard!” The incident was extremely embarrassing for Scotland Yard during a time when citizens already thought them failures because of Jack the Ripper. Holmes is requested to investigate.

IA Watson always includes little tidbits in his footnotes which make his stories not only good reading but informational as well. This takes the form of historical documentation and Holmes lore from such sources as “Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street” by Holmes Historian William S. Baring-Gould…

“The Adventure of the Artful Forger” is by Lee Huston, Jr. Holmes is retained by a wealthy man, Lord Van Horton. Someone has stolen his wife’s picture from his private study. The story isn’t all that bad, but I did like it the least in this volume. It just didn’t resonate with me. I cannot put my finger on what I feel is missing. I’m sorry, Lee.

“The Adventure of the Man Hunting Marshall” by Peter Basile has “a distinct touch,” as Holmes would say! An acquaintance of Holmes from the Great Hiatus comes to London in pursuit of a wanted felon from the American West. Readers like myself who are fans of the old west historically will not need Basile’s afterward to know who most of the outlaws really are! Kudos for placing Holmes in the old west! It is very possible, even probable, that Holmes visited American while on the run from Moriarty’s gang…

I really have to mark this one “Best in Book!”

Rounding out our stories is “The Adventure of the Conundrum King” by Greg Hatcher. What can I say about a story that is really, really good? Kudos for this character and I am sure you will know what I mean, Greg, when I say a tip of the green derby to you! Great stuff!

The volume is a welcome addition to the series. I give it a big four stars!

Quoth the Raven…

Buy it here>

Apr. 15, 2018

Dan Shamble, Zombie PI: Tastes like Chicken by Kevin J Anderson

Things are clucking up in the Big Uneasy!

Kevin J Anderson is back with another volume featuring the whacky world of Dan Chambeux! Fans of the stories know that the “Big Uneasy” has transformed our world. All of the historical monsters and things that go bump in the night are now everyday citizens. For many, death is truly only the beginning…

Dan Shamble, his ghostly girlfriend Sheyenne, his human lawyer partner Robin and best human friend (BHF) Officer Toby McGoohan are up to their usual hijinks! There is a new food supplier to the unnatural quarter. The food is well received by all, but there is something weird about Monster Chow’s representative…

Vampires are going on rampages after ingesting drinks at local blood bars. A gang consisting of both humans and vampires battle it out in the streets with the law. Unaturals of all types have been going missing. Dan and McGoohan have a little vampire girl left on their doorstep, so to speak. And there are feral chickens loose in the street!

Kudos for a lot of crazy, sometimes unsubtle cameos in the story! There is the gang of hillbilly vampires who call themselves “Suck Dynasty!” Are you in dire need of assistance? Just call for the EMTs. In this case, that’s Emergency Mortician Technicians. If you are traveling, you can always count on Hellhound Bus Line. The Bigfeet (their chosen term!) are collecting for their Bigfoot/Yeti Visibility Society. “You have real trouble seeing them!” There’s Edgar Alan Troll, the Less-than-whole Food Market, and many, many more!

This is quite possibly the most fun you will have with a book that has a collection of ghosts, zombies, vampires, werewolves, witches, warlocks, demons, golems, Bigfeet, and much more from the realm of fantasy and horror! I love this series! I give this latest volume five stars plus!

Quoth the Raven…

Buy it here>