Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Irregular Lives: The Untold Story of Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars

Once again, I'm hooked on a new Sherlock Holmes novel, this one by Kim Krisco. I always enjoy it when the “Baker Street Irregulars” show up in a Sherlock Holmes story, and this tale is a particularly touching one. For readers not familiar with the canon, the Irregulars were a group of street urchins in three of the original adventures written by Sir Arthur Canon Doyle (A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four, and “The Adventure of the Crooked Man,” one of the stories in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.) Basically a street gang, they are led by a boy named Wiggins, and Sherlock employs them as street spies.

Irregular Lives jumps forward to the year 1919. WWI is over, but future threats to world peace loom. In Ireland, the Irish Republican Army is fighting British forces. Against this backdrop, Holmes, who has retired to his farm in Sussex Downs, receives an invitation by a mysterious S. P. Fields to a photography exhibit on Russell Square in London. Naturally, he attends, and finds the photographs are pictures of the “Irregulars” when they were children. Each photograph brings a memory of a particular case, and each case stirs emotions in Holmes, a man famous for keeping his life cerebral.

Then a second invitation to a special dinner at a posh home in Belgravia comes for both Holmes and Watson. They arrive and find all of the adult Irregulars in the photographs are there to honor the impact Holmes had on their lives. All but two, that is—Wiggins and Ruck. Those present have struggled up from their former Spitalfields lives, though, to Holmes’s dismay, the host works for an armament company. Then Wiggins shows up in a dreadful state and Ruck enters, packing a gun. What began as an inspiring evening evolves into a case that involves blackmail, murder, kidnapping, armaments dealing, a secret new weapon, the IRA, and Holmes’s personal enemy, the daughter of Moriarty.

The story is told in multiple points of view, and the author gives us a more rounded out Sherlock without changing his basic nature. The first part of the book sets the reader up nicely for the personalities of the adult Irregulars and Holmes’s reluctant awakening to an almost “parental” concern for them. The author has also made the London of George V palpable. The reader can walk the streets of that era in all the neighborhoods mentioned and almost see them and feel them firsthand. This is historical fiction at its best, as well as a deeply engrossing adventure that draws the reader in until the last page.


Kim Krisco writes both fiction and nonfiction. You can learn more about him on his Amazon author page HERE (and pre-order his book as well. It will be released November 16, 2016.)

You can connect with him on Facebook HERE

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sherlock Has a New Helper!

Author, Brenda Seabrooke
Meet Digby!
Since I have a fascination with Sherlock Holmes, I'm always delighted to find a new story that involves him and his reliable Boswell, Dr. Watson. So when I had the chance to read Scones and Bones on Baker Street, Sherlock's Dog (Maybe) and the Dirt Dilemma, by award-winning Brenda Seabrooke,  I grabbed it.

The hero of this tale is a street dog named Digby whose motto in life is “Never daunted, never fazed,” a motto that befits him. The story opens with Digby prowling the streets of London, hoping for a scrap of food, some water, and a safe place to sleep. When he endangers himself to rescue a cat from a horse-drawn hackney, a foot sends him flying out of harm’s way then disappears into the crowd. Digby goes on a sniffing search to find that foot and thank its owner, who, as it turns out, is Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock may have gotten Digby’s attention with a kick, but Digby wins his attention by accidentally foiling a bomb plot (no spoilers here as to how and where). He follows Holmes and Watson to 221B Baker Street, where he now has a new goal in life—to become Sherlock Holmes’s right paw dog and help him solve cases. But winning Sherlock’s attention isn’t the same thing as winning his affection. The detective doesn’t particularly want a dog, and it’s up to Digby to change his mind. The misadventures that follow are hilarious as Digby shadows Holmes and Watson and becomes embroiled in their new case—a case familiar to Sherlockians, but now seen through the point of view of this lovable mutt.

Seabrooke has created a believable character in Digby, who reads the world through his sense of smell and his loyal doggy heart. One hopes more cases will follow. Brian Belanger’s illustrations capture Digby’s quirky personality. “Fun Facts” at the bottom of each page introduce a young reader to both historical details of Victorian London and the concept of footnotes.

You can get a copy of this delightful book HERE:
You can learn more about the author and her many books HERE

A question for you: Do you enjoy stories for children told through the eyes of an animal? Why or why not? Have you come across any tales for adults told from an animal's point of view?


Monday, September 19, 2016

Great Stories Starring Sherlock, and a Wonderful Find

What a busy week it's been: I attended a writing workshop,  I finished the story collection,  Beyond Watson, I found just the right book for my next Sherlock story, and a furry visitor -- the cute little rabbit that started visiting our back yard.reminded me that it's always great to celebrate the small things.

First, I'll start with  the book I found: In my neighborhood, someone in a a home on the corner of F & 25th has started a "little free library." I've read of these: A small box atop a post with shelves and a glass door--you can take books for free and leave books for others to take for free. On my walk yesterday, I passed it and peeked in, and what to my wondering eyes did appear . . .

Yes! just the reference I need at my fingertips to help with a story idea that's rolling around in my head for a new Sherlock-related tale -- and we're going to be traveling, so I can't take my shelf-load of Sherlcock-related books. This was beyond cool. (I did leave a generous load of books return.)

Then there is the matter of reading the rest of the marvelous story collection, Beyond Watson. It's been way busy lately, and then I came down with a really horrible cold. But it gave me time to put my feet up and finish my Beyond Watson reading feast:

Let me give you some snapshot reviews of the remaining stories I hadn't yet read.

Previously I gave little thumbnail reviews to 
three of the stories on June 27th HERE and four more stories on August 4th,  HERE . Check them out again, and then read the rest, as I did with great pleasure. Here are 5 more. 

     Mine, "Kidnapped," stars Imogene, Rusty, and Sherlock again, as well as Imogene's trusty cook, Mrs. Parker. Rusty gets kidnapped in this story, and more than that, I will not say.
     In David Ruffle's "The Tarlton Affair" someone in Sherlock Holmes's past shows up to confront him about a nefarious murder plot in which Sherlock actually played a significant role.This story, BTW, is full of twists and surprises--something I always enjoy in a mystery, and you will, too.
     In Jack McDevitt's "The Lost Equation," during a trip to London, the American journalist, H. L. Mencken, helps Sherlock Holmes unravel a case involving Einstein's famous equation, E=mc².  Apparently a young physics student discovered particle theory two years before Einstein did, then died shortly afterward, at age 32, of a stroke. Why? And was it a stroke?
     In "An Adventure in the Mid-day Sun," by Daniel D. Victor, fifteen-year-old Raymond Chandler (yes, that Raymond Chandler) is working as a page at 221 Baker Street. On a fateful day, he witnesses a murder in the back alley and is about to be next, when a mysterious boy he's seen lurking about rescues him. Stolen pearls, a part in a play, blackmail . . . and a clever surprise at the end!
     Last, but not least, "Some Notes Upon the Matter of John Douglas," by David Marcum, involves an interview in the Dartmoor Prison with Sebastian Moran, whom Holmes has described as "the second most dangerous man in London." Moran's status in this tale comes from being Professor Moriarty's right hand man, (Moriarty being the "first most dangerous man in London"). In this interview he recalls a case when an American came to Moriarty to basically arrange a hit on a Pinkerton detective (in England under the new name, John Douglas) who brought down a crime ring in America. But what a tangled tale this becomes, and one with effects far into the future.

So, run, don't walk . . . or at least let your fingers do the running . . . and get a copy of this fine collection HERE. You won't regret it. 

Third,  I went to a writing workshop about getting published on September 9th and pitched my cozy mystery (alas, not involving Holmes or Watson) to two agents. I got two requests: one for a full, one for a partial. (Which means, I know, only that the pitch sounded good and they'd like to see more.) Still, I'm over the moon. Especially since it seems I've learned how to write the dreaded pitch, something that has always terrified me.

And now -- the bunny I'm celebrating. It may sound strange to celebrate the arrival of a little cottontail rabbit who has decided to make our back yard one of his favorite visiting spots. But a few days ago, that's just what happened. He comes almost every day, now, and munches on our grass and, I fervently hope, the weeds I haven't had time to pull. And he is just too cute. 

Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog. (You can click on any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. I recommend it, because it's fun to see positive news that others are celebrating, and to share your own as well.  A dose of the positive is always refreshing.)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Celebrating Lots of Things

It's celebration time again--and I am two days late! For good reason, though. I'm celebrating several things this week. 

Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog. (You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate. I recommend it, because it's always fun to see positive news that others are celebrating, and to share your own as well. )

What am I celebrating?

First, Goodreads is having a book giveaway for Beyond Watson from August 26th to September 3rd, 2016. So jump in and win your copy
HERE: I'll be updating with my thumbnail reviews of four more stories in a couple of days. 

Second, I finished one of those two big projects I mentioned a few posts ago: The finished project was a rewrite of a cozy mystery that I'm going to be pitching to a couple of agents at a workshop in a week and a half. 

(The second project--a mystery project until I finish--will tie me up for all of September, but when I finish, you can bet I'll be celebrating here!)

Third, my copy of Mark Noce's Between Two Fires came yesterday. Yay! I was getting a little concerned, because he's signing books in Sacramento this coming Saturday, and I want to him to sign my copy. So I'm celebrating his signing as well.  

And Fourth -- a bit more personal -- my god brother had heart surgery a couple of weeks ago and came through it like a champ! He's doing great. So happy for this very special person and his very special wife!

How about you? I hope good things are happening in your life and that you are having a week of celebrating the small and large things that make life so meaningful. Have a great week.