Book Review: Sherlock Holmes & the Grinning Cat

Author: Joseph W.Svec III
Read: May 2016
Number of pages: 139
Format: Paperback
Published: 14th December 2015
ISBN: 1780928858
Publisher:  MX Publishing
Rating: 

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I saw this book randomly on a general browse through Instagram. I knew instantly I had to read it. Why was Holmes having an adventure with the grinning cat from Alice and Wonderland? What weird story w

‘Joseph Svec, III is brilliant in entwining two endearing and enduring classics of literature, blending the factual with the fantastical; the playful with the pensive; and the mischievous with the mysterious. We shall, all of us young and old, benefit with a cup of tea, a tranquil afternoon, and a copy of Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Grinning Cat. – Linda Hein, Hein & Co Used Books, and founding officer of the Amador County Holmes Hounds Sherlockian Society

Synopsis: Time is running out! When the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, and The Mad Hatter turn up randomly at 221-B Baker Street to enlist the help of Sherlock Holmes in locating Alice who is missing from Wonderland, and Lewis Carroll himself who is also nowhere to be found, there begins an adventure more stranger and curious than anything Sherlock has ever encountered. A Unicorn, the Jabberwocky, the time traveling author, H.G. Wells, trips to Wonderland and beyond, and even a journey outside of time itself where awaits the ultimate enigma of logic, all are a part of this incredible tale.

Review: From the get go this is not an obvious Doyle classic. It is a book poking at fun and a mad delight of a fantasy story where two great worlds collide. It is a story that takes a few hours to read but in those few hours you will laugh and laugh. It will put a smile on your face just like the Cheshire Cat. Everything that is illogical is made logical. It stretches your imagination and would a perfect read for adult or children.

Holmes and Watson find the Cheshire Cat sitting in the armchair at 221B Baker Street. It is a true Cheshire Cat as it defines gravity, walls through walls and drinks tea. It took Holmes 3 hours in the book to accept this was true as he thought Watson had pulled one over on him with a ventriloquism trick. Alas, it was not.

Adding to this the White Rabbit constantly saying ‘I am late’ and the Mad Hatter turn up at  the door. All of them are their for Holmes as he is believed to be the only one that can solver their problem. That Alice and Lewis Carroll have gone missing. Alice failed to turn up to the Wednesday weekly tea party and Lewis Carroll passed onto a land that no one can return from.

So begins a crazy and hilarious wind and skies journey to H G Wells house, the author and inventor of the time machine to help with their adventures to and from Wonderland and various other places like Mars reference ing the ‘War of the Worlds’ novel by H G Wells in the process. Finally, the last showdown with the Realms of Time using mystery, logic and cryptic that Holmes has to solve to save Wonderland and himself.

At the end of the Novel Sherlock’s next client turns up. It is Captain Nemo and his vessel the Nautilus. A nod to the next novel that I will definitely be reading – watch this space!

If you want to have a few hours of humour and laughs. Treat it in a light hearted manner that it was intended for. Read this to children or generally enjoy all those fantastic characters that we love so much then his is definitely worth getting. Click here to get yours hands on it. I very highly recommend it.

If there are any books you would recommend me to read please leave a comment below!

 

 

Book Review: Study in Charlotte

Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Read: May 2016
Number of pages: 336
Format: Hardback
Published: March 2016
ISBN: 0062398903
Publisher:  Katherine Tegen Books
Rating:  four-stars

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I was intrigued by the title of this book as it clearly reminisced in Doyle’s classic ‘ A Study in Scarlett’ which we all know is a fantastic read where the original Sherlock and Watson meet for the first time. I must say with its illustrated beautiful eye catching cover it really looks lovely on the book case as well. I am always one for a modern take on a Sherlock classic and these book really ticked those boxes for me.

‘A thrilling twist on a classic. Readers will be pulled in by both the riveting mystery and Charlotte Holmes, a brilliant heroine with secrets of her own.’ – Maureen Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of the Shades of London series

Synopsis: The first book is a witty, suspenseful new trilogy about a brilliant new crime-solving duo: the teen descendants of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Jamie Watson has always been intrigued by Charlotte Holmes; after all, their great-great-great-grandfathers are one of the most infamous pairs in history. But the Holmes family has always been odd, and Charlotte is no exception. She has inherited Sherlock’s volatility and some of his vices and when Jamie and Charlotte end up at the same Connecticut boarding school, Charlotte makes it clear she s not looking for friends.

But when a student they both have a history with dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Danger is mounting and nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other.

Review: This book is a lot of fun. The characters are descendants from the main characters which I found I could relate to a lot. The main character, Charlotte Holmes, is a female version of Sherlock. The Holmes have decided to keep up the detective line in their family and school each child from a young age in the art of deduction. But Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holme don’t know each other at all. That is, until they end up at the same boarding school being framed for a murder they didn’t commit.

I did find this book a little difficult to get into as it was mainly Jamie Watson talking about he hated the country, school and that he had no close friends. I did find it difficult to not like him as a main character but as the book progressed and the story kicked off I found I started enjoying it more.

Charlotte was also a very interesting character and completely what I would expect a Sherlock descendant to be like. Arrogant, pretentious, cocky. The author also gave Charlotte some one emotions that one would not usually see in a Doyle classic. Doing things for fun because she liked them, fragile when she reached the end of her teether or frustration and anger when things were not going right.

The murder mystery its self was gripping. I could not work out who it was. It was dynamic in showing James and Charlotte’s friendship grow as their relationship was put to the test. There was leads, dead ends, references to Moriarty descendants. When you think it is solved, it isn’t and leads on to something else. There were many references to original Sherlock Holmes stories and I enjoyed that as a reader.

Overall, apart from the slow beginning as I got into it I enjoyed it more. The plot and the character depiction made this book and I am looking forward to the second book in the series. For your copy click here.

Book Review: The House at Baker Street

Author: Michelle Birkby
Read: April 2016
Number of pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Published: 25th February 2016
ISBN: 1509807225
Publisher:  Pan; Main Market Ed. edition
Rating: 

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I was very excited when I saw this book pop up on my amazon account and I must congratulate the author, Michelle Birkby for such a refreshing take on a classic.  I have never clicked on a ‘Buy it Now’ button so quickly. What a fantastic idea to have two characters, Mary Watson and Mrs Hudson, whom we love for different reasons in a traditional Holmes story, now get to take centre stage in their own Novel and see their characters evolve. It is a good detour away from Holmes and Watson stories and like the book suggests, ‘Behind every great detective stands a great woman…’

‘I loved The House at Baker Street. This is the perfect post-Sherlock book: warm, compassionate, intelligent, with plot and language crafted in the style of the Master Conan Doyle himself. Martha Hudson and Mary Watson step off the page, finally given the life they always needed. It’s the kind of book any of us would be proud to have written, but to have done so as a debut is little short of exceptional. Michelle Birkby is a name to watch as she rises to literary stardom – and I can already feel the television adaptation on the way’ – MANDA SCOTT, AUTHOR OF ROME & BOUDICA.

Synopsis: When Sherlock Holmes turns down the case of persecuted Laura Shirley. Mrs Hudson – the landlady of Baker Street – and Mary Watson – the wife of Dr. Watson – resolve to take on the investigation themselves. From the kitchen of 221B Baker Street, the women begin their inquiries and enlist the assistance of the Irregulars and the infamous Irene Adler. A trail of leads lead them to the darkest corners of Whitechapel, where the fearsome Ripper supposedly still stalks. They soon discover Laura Shirley is not the only woman at risk and the lives of many others are in danger too. The investigation becomes bigger than they can imagine, are they just pawns in a much larger game?

Review: As I settled down into reading this new Sherlock adventure with a cuppa I was full of questions. How will it be different? Will it be any good or just a disappointment? I became so absorbed that I now find my steaming tea is very cold. Both Martha Hudson and Mary Watson are believable characters and the plot is a good one, though not perhaps quite of the standard of an original Conan Doyle.  The book doesn’t have the same period feel as the Conan Doyle stories either, but then why should it?  It was written a hundred years later and doesn’t make any pretentious to be the same as the originals.

Mrs Martha Hudson is a pure heroine is there ever was one, she is by far my favourite character in this new adventure and high competition for Mr Holmes himself. It is so lovely to see her inner strength and strong character grow throughout the novel. She is reserved, composed and determined. Fiercely determined and protective of those she loves. We hear of her life before Baker Street. We are slowly given the details of her relationship with the two solid partners in crime and allowed to bear witness to how they love her so, how she is their family, theirs to protect. We learn of the new found friendship with Mrs Hudson and Mary Watson, witness to a strong bond they have for each other and see a more personable side to Miss Irene Adler.

The Irregulars also feature a main part. We see Wiggins and Billy in a light we usually do not seeing and how precious they are to Mrs Hudson.

The ‘case’ is an adventure, the imagery created by the descriptive and detailed writing can be quite vivid at times and gory, but exciting as yet again and again another suspect is added to the list or another body found battered and bruised. Sometimes you think they will not solve the case.

The House at Baker Street is an atmospheric novel with strong characters, stronger relationships, trust, secrets, burglary, murder, blackmail and surprising events. I am already looking forward to the second book. Can not recommend this book enough. A must read for any sherlock fan! For your copy click here.

Book Review: The Art of Blood

Author: Bonnie MacBird
Read:  November 2015
Number of pages: 336
Format: Hard Back
Published: 27th August 2015
ISBN: 0008129665
Publisher: Collins Crime Club
Rating:   five-stars

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“In a world with more than its share of Sherlock Holmes pastiches, it is rare for one to soar above the rest, but Bonnie MacBird’s Art in the Blood achieves this singular feat and deserves a tip of the deerstalker.” – OTTO PENZLER, EDITOR, “THE BIG BOOK OF SHERLOCK HOLMES STORIES”

Synopsis: London. A snowy December, 1888. Sherlock Holmes, 34, is languishing and back on cocaine after a disastrous Ripper investigation. Watson can neither comfort nor rouse his friend – until a strangely encoded letter arrives from Paris. Mlle La Victoire, a beautiful French cabaret star writes that her illegitimate son by an English lord has disappeared, and she has been attacked in the streets of Montmartre. Racing to Paris with Watson at his side, Holmes discovers the missing child is only the tip of the iceberg of a much larger problem. The most valuable statue since the Winged Victory has been violently stolen in Marseilles, and several children from a silk mill in Lancashire have been found murdered. The clues in all three cases point to a single, untouchable man.

Will Holmes recover in time to find the missing boy and stop a rising tide of murders? To do so he must stay one step ahead of a dangerous French rival and the threatening interference of his own brother, Mycroft. This latest adventure, in the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, sends the iconic duo from London to Paris and the icy wilds of Lancashire in a case which tests Watson’s friendship and the fragility and gifts of Sherlock Holmes’ own artistic nature to the limits.

Review: What to say about this book? I loved it. It hit the satisfying holmesian notes that a sherlockian craves. It was exciting, very well researched and touches of humour which kept the pages turning. The art work leaped out on the bookcase screaming ‘Read Me!’. What is it about hardback books?

The glorious Sherlock and Watson relationship is observed and respected by MacBird and is a tribute to the Conan Doyle style. Having just finished and reviewed the House of Silk by Horrowitz, this was every bit as good; if not better. Ironically, or deliberately, this novel has a similar side plot to Horrowitz’ House of Silk so it felt like it was a continuation of the story …this, for me, put it into context.

There are plenty of twists and turns, plots and sub-plots, and convincing villains making this an engaging adventures, complete with scenes in Baker street, rattling along London streets and the countryside in cabs and trains. An exceedingly enjoyable read and I can’t wait for the sequel, ‘Unquiet Spirts’ next year.

This one comes highly recommended. Click here for your copy!

Book Review: The Stuff of Nightmares

Author: James Lovegrove
Read between: February – March 2016
Number of pages: 291
Format: Paperback
Published: August 2013
ISBN:1781165416
Publisher: Titan Books
Rating: 

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This is the 3rd offering in the Titan Sherlock Holmes collection. The stylish covers have really drawn me to this collection and I know new titles will be continued to be added. This is the first one I have read of three Sherlock Holmes novels Lovegrove has currently penned (the other two being Gods of War and The Thinking Engine, these are currently sitting patiently on my bookcase waiting to be read).

“An action-packed, fun adventure filled with traditional Holmsian details but with the added spice of a strong sci-fi steampunk element.” – Popcorn Reads

Synopsis: Set in 1890, Stuff of Nightmares starts with a powerful opening of Watson arriving at Waterloo station as a terrorist bomb explodes causing a shocking amount of death and devastation. This is the third bombing to have gone off and the country is beginning to panic. Having witnessed the horror first hand Watson immediately sets off to find his old friend Holmes knowing he would be in the thick of the investigation. Meanwhile, a strange figure has been spied haunting the rooftops and grimy back alleys of the capital. Holmes believes the masked attacker holds the key to the attacks. This is not just an ordinary person. He possesses weaponry and armour of unprecedented sophistications and is now only by the name, Baron Cauchemar; and he appears to be a scourge of crime and villainy. Is he what he appears to be? Holmes and Watson are set to embark on one of their strangest and most exhilarating adventures yet.

Review: What to say about this book apart for it being brilliant! What first struck me about this book is Lovegrove’s excellent use of language, just the opening bomb scene at Waterloo station alone was wonderfully described, not only in it’s use of words but the tone of the book was spot on from Watson’s point of view. I also felt it was very relevant to today. The ‘problem’ goes back to the heart of the British Empire and threaten the heart of the Monarchy itself. The story treads at a steady pace following Holmes’s investigation meeting a fair amount of both familiar Holmes characters such as Mycroft, Mrs Hudson, Lestrade as well as a host of new faces which are brought to life with equal skill, my favourite being the infamous Baron Cauchemar who turns up in truly splendid fashion at every appearance. The balance is also very well done with a mixture of serious moments but also added humour.

When we meet Cauchemar his enigmatic character is exciting and reminiscent echoing portraits of Iron man or Batman. Is he a friend or foe? A a read you fear him but then you admire him. With its martial arts, fast, unrelenting action, suspense and heroics this has all the ingredients you could hope for in a Sherlock Holmes adventure. Fortunately, it is also clear that Lovegrove is a fan of Holmes’ creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as there are plenty of references and allusions to the original canon.

The ending is over the top taking if far in the opposite direction to a Doyle classic but you can forgive it because it is highly entertaining. Even though it is more of a fantasy ending, Lovegrove, shows great respect to Holmes and Watson and has created a great novel. I would recommend and recommend again! To get your hands on this great novel click here.

P.S Welcome my new Sherlock Holmes lego mini figure… I am sure he will be making more guest appearances in this blog.

© Chris Bird Photography 2016

Book Review: The Army of Dr Moreau

Author: Guy Adams
Read between: January 2016
Number of pages: 281
Format: Paperback
Published: 24th August 2012
ISBN: 0857689339
Publisher: Titan Books
Rating:  five-stars.jpg

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This is the 2nd Book by Guy Adams in the collection I got off eBay and I was hoping for a more enjoyable story as I felt a bit deflated after the last one.

“Smartly written in the familiar Holmes style, the book has a crisp wit, high adventure, knowing nods to literary fans, and a well plotted mystery.” – THE DAILY ROTATION.

Synopsis: Dead bodies are found on the streets of London with wounds that can only be explained as the work of ferocious creatures not native to the city. Holmes is visited by Mycroft who is only too ware that the bodies are the calling card of Dr Moreau, a vivisectionist who was working for the British Government, following in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, before his experiments attracted negative attention and he was halted. Mycroft believes Moreau’s experiments continue and he charges his brother with tracking the rogue scientist down before matters escalate further.

Review: After having a disappointing read with the pervious book, ‘Breath of God’; I was hoping for an improvement and I am glad to report I was not let down at all. This story takes inspiration from late Nineteenth century H. G Wells ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’ book. From the get go we are told that someone is continuing with the experiments into the beginning of the 20th Century. When citizens of London start turning up on the street mauled by unknown creatures, Mycroft’s requests Sherlock to help solve the mystery with the help of scientists. Mycroft knows the story of Edward Pendrick and Dr. Moreau (once in his employ) and fears that Moreau is either not as dead as was formerly believed, or that someone has resurrected his work as a vivisectionist, hoping to create a race of super beasts for their own nefarious purposes. Sherlock finds himself intrigued, and before you know it, the game is afoot!

The Army of Dr. Moreau is a rollicking good ride, as Holmes and Watson take to the cities sewers, tracing the path of a local gang leader whose description sounds suspiciously canine. The novel does falter somewhat in the latter third, as Adams strays from the traditional Holmesian mystery to a straight up action novel, yet there is enough of Holmes’ and Watson essential nature to carry it to the finish. What starts out as a charming change of viewpoint (Holmes takes the reins as narrator when Watson becomes unavailable) becomes somewhat frenetic late in the novel, as every chapter is told from a different point of view. It does feel a bit rushed, and I wonder if his story could have benefitted from another fifty or so pages. The description of these ‘beasts’ makes them believable in a weird way. However, it doesn’t distract significantly from what is a thoroughly fun, although pulpy, pastiche.

So, if you were always disappointed that Conan Doyle and Wells never got together over tea to collaborate, this is for you. Click here for your copy.

Book Review: The Breath of God

Author: Guy Adams
Read:  January 2016
Number of pages: 245
Format: Paperback
Published: September 2011
ISBN: 0857682822
Publisher: Titan Books
Rating: 3 star.jpg

“Sherlock Holmes: The Breath of God plays out its mystery with an intriguing action aspect, spurred onward with fusion of supernatural and weird fiction. It’s an intelligently written book.” – SPOOKY READS

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As a person that loves Doyle’s classic style and the baton between Holmes and Watson I am always on the look out for authors taking on the challenge. I got this book in a lot of 6 books from ebay which I recommend. I will be reading them in published date order and I know Titan are bringing out more this year to keep the collection growing.

Synopsis: A body is found crushed to death in the London snow with no footprints anywhere near it. It is almost as if the man was killed by air itself. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson travel to Scotland to meet with the one person they had been told can help: Aleister Crowley. As dark powers encircles them, Holme;s rationalist beliefs behind the be questioned. The unbelievable and unholy are on their trail as they gather together the most accomplished occult minds in the country: Dr John Silence, the so called ‘Physic Doctor’; supernatural investigator Thomas Carnacki; runic expert and demonologist, Julian Karswell… But will they be enough? AS the century draws to a close it seems London is ready to fall and the infernal abyss is growing wide enough to swallow us all.

Review: The opening of this book really captures the imagination and I can not fault it. However, though the read I was growing increasingly disappointed and I felt the story fell flat. I think, like Sherlock Holmes, have an issue with the super natural element because like Holmes, I know logic and science should be behind the mystery. I found some spiritual things hard to believe or a bit to crazy to believe were real. Guy Adam’s imagination and writing did keep me reading but even Holmes takes a back seat and says, “When you have eliminated the impossibles, whatever remains, maybe the truth “. The three new characters we are introduce to work well together but I missed Holmes present and the chapters were told from different perspectives which helped try to explain what was going on. The supernatural attacks are described well and are terrifying however, I still don’t feel satisfied I actually know what the breath of god was or maybe I was dissapppintment when it was just gas.

I feel very neutral about this book. It reminds me of Doyle’s, ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’ so maybe I felt I have read this type of thing before by the man himself. The villain, Julian Karswell reminded me of the Joker from Batman with his hallucinations gas and I enjoyed the descriptions of what characters saw when effected. I am glad I read it as its a different take but maybe the supernatural topic is not my thing. It took a long time for the book to reveal it was gas and it turned very chaotic and over the top at the end.

Can’t take the Holmes logic out of the girl.

If you wish to have a read yourself and see what you think click here.

Book Review: The House of Silk

Author: Anthony Horowitz
Read between: Christmas Holidays 2015
Number of pages: 389 with a bonus review by author at back of book
Format: Paperback
Published: 11th September 2014
ISBN: 1409157245
Publisher: Orion Paperback
Rating: 

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After reading Moriarty and enjoying it so much over the Christmas break I knew Horowitz had a previous novel called, ‘The House of Silk’ and ordered it before I even finished Moriarty. I was expecting the same banter language echoing the Doyle’s classic style and as a reader I was not disappointed. When I put it down I found myself thinking about what could happen, what was going to happen next?

“Horowitz has captured Holmes Heaven” – THE TIMES

Synopsis: Set in London, November 1890 in the amerce of winter. Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson are enjoying tea by the fire when an agitated gentleman arrives unannounced at 221B Baker Street. He begs Holmes for help, telling the unnerving story of a scar-faced man with piercing eyes who has stalked him in recent week. Holmes and Watson find themselves drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events, stretching from gas-lit streets of London to the criminal underworld of Boston and the mysterious, ‘House of Silk’.

Review: Having come off the back of Moriarty Book I was sucked straight into this world. It is impressive to feel it is not a Doyle classic because the language Horowitz’s uses is so authentic. This is more of the classic style I would say Sherlockian fans are use to with Watson as the narrator. The classic characters are there. Sherlock, Watson, Lestrade, Mrs Hudson and Brother Mycroft. Horowitz keeps the relationship between each character true.

The plot is well written with many twists and turns. There is a good balance of fast pace chases and masterful criminal thinking. The story has many layers of mysterious set in the victorian era. One of the main difference is the take on the Irregulars. They are not portrayed as the cheeky, street-gang but are pitied for their poverty and the harshness of their lives wrapped in with the ‘House of Silk’.

The ‘House of Silk’ turns out to be a gentleman’s club abusing children. It is well hidden and when revealed is a shock. I think it is a story that Doyle could not write but the modern author could. I was shocked as a reader this was the outcome as we were believed it was an all boys school where the teachers wanted what was best for their students. The way the truth is uncovered is well written and a good adventure.

Even though I read this second, it has a place on my bookcase. Its a good read, if you wish to order ‘House of Silk click here as we all know, ‘The Game is Afoot!’.

© Chris Bird Photography 2016

Book Review: Moriarty

Author: Anthony Horowitz
Read between: Christmas Holidays 2015
Number of pages: 362 with a bonus Strand Short Story ‘The Three Monarchs’
ISBN: 1409129519
Format: Paperback
Published: 5th November 2015
Publisher: Orion Paperback
Rating: 


‘Horowitz takes up the Conan Doyle baton and creates a suitably stylish and twisty detective story’ –
 SUNDAY MIRROR

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A well received christmas gift that sparked my Sherlock addiction and spurred me onto creating a blog to record and share the wonderful books I am reading. It was a completely refreshing take on the typical Sherlock Holmes style hence the title. Horowitz is known for his Alex Rider books. This is Horowitz second offering in his Holmes series.

Synopsis: Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard travels to Meiringen, Switzerland to view the body of one Professor James Moriarty, which has been pulled from the waters at the foot of the infamous Reichenbach Falls, I am sure you all know the story. Mr Holmes is also believed to be dead. He is joined – unexpectedly – by a Mr Frederick Chase of the Pinkerton’s Detective Agency who was pursued by Clarence Devereaux – a notorious New York criminal boss – across the Atlantic to a planned meeting with Moriarty. Together they return to London tracking their quarries’ last movements and known associates to a fateful nexus at the heartof the London underworld.

Review: The way I imagine this book ties into the Sherlock universe would be the sequence after The 2011 film “Shelock Holmes, A Game of Shadows” starring Robert Downey Jr. A recommended good movie.

Jones and Chase take on the famous role of Sherlock and Watson if somewhat diluted does try to reflect the Doyle-ian style banter. I found myself lapping up the pages as its fast pace kept me hooked.

The sharp string in the tail is when Chase ‘breaks the fourth wall’ and directly talks to us, that Chase is not really Chase and is in-fact Moriarty. He then spills into detail about why he took on the persona of Chase. It was to out smart the american criminal that had taken up resistance on Moriarty’s patch. He got access to police investigation and no one suspected a thing – not even the reader. No one knows what Moriarty looks like and it played all into his favour. I guess I am more of a Watson than a Sherlock but I did NOT see that coming despite the big clue on the front of the book.

A good read and a worthwhile story to add to my classic Sherlock stories.  Click Here to get your copy, have a cuppa and be sucked into this Holmes twist.

© Chris Bird Photography 2016