Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sherlock Holmes - Tangled Skeins


This wonderful collection of tales is a pastiche. According to Wikipedia, “A pastiche is a work of visual art, literature, theatre, or music that imitates the style or character of the work of one or more other artists. Unlike parody, pastiche celebrates, rather than mocks, the work it imitates.”

Tangled Skeins is indeed a celebration of the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson and the writing style of Sir Arthur Canon Doyle. For Holmes and Watson lovers, there is the pleasure of encountering beloved characters in new adventures. For pastiche lovers, there is the admiration of seeing how Marcum gets the tone and style just right. For lovers of good writing, there is the pleasure of well-crafted, intricately plotted stories that keep the pages turning.

I especially liked the humorous introduction by David Marcum, purportedly the editor of  these “undiscovered” tales. In Part I, Marcum recounts his life-long attachment to wearing a Deerstalker hat. In Part II, he takes the reader on his pilgrimage to famous Sherlockian sites mentioned in the canon and in other pastiches. Part III explains how Marcum came by these stories during his London pilgrimage: A strange man had instructions to give a certain tin box to a man in a Deerstalker hat. Inside the box are the stories, along with Watson’s foreword saying he is leaving them temporarily with a friend while he and Holmes finish up a case. Apparently he never came back for them. There are five tales in all:

            In “The Mystery at Kerrett’s Root”, Mrs. Grimshaw, Mrs. Hudson’s widowed sister, meets Holmes and Watson on the train when they are returning to London during a case. Mrs. Grimshaw has a ghost story to relate, but in the convoluted tale that unfolds, much more is revealed than the ghost that has frightened her.

            In “The Curious Incident of the Goat Cart Man”, Watson joins Holmes, Inspector Patterson, and several detectives at Paddington Station on a case involving Professor Moriarty when another case intrudes. The new case includes two brothers and a recluse whose life may be in danger, Sir Giles Gidley-Hall. Sir Giles, impoverished by debts, now resides at the edge of his former park. He’s eccentric, riding around the park in a cart pulled by a goat, and the revelations solving his plight lead eerily back to Moriarty.

            “The Matter of Boz’s Last Letter” features an auction and a letter by Dickens that outlines  his ending to The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Or does it?  Or is it really by Dickens? Whatever the truth, the contents are incendiary and could be dangerous to the Crown. Soon both Mycroft and Sherlock are at work on surprising and interwoven aspects of the case.

            In “The Tangled Skein at Birling Gap”, Sherlock is retired, but as Watson visits his friend in Sussex, the reader learns that Holmes still consults when his assistance is needed. At Birling Gap, a boy has been kidnapped for ransom. While Holmes and Watson are planning their approach to the kidnapper, they learn that Officer Warren at the coast guard residencies has been murdered. Holmes narrows down who the killer is and why. Not surprisingly in a Sherlock story, these two cases are related. But no spoilers here. You’ll have to read this satisfying story yourself.

            My favorite in the collection is “The Gower Street Murder”, a story within a story that features the Wiggins family. In the original canon, the Baker Street Irregulars were street urchins spying for Holmes, who made Wiggins their leader. In this story, before Watson ever knew him, Holmes helped clear Peter Wiggins’s  mother of a false murder charge. Watson encounters the grown Peter on return from an errand for Holmes on a current case, and he’s invited to join Holmes at Wiggins’ home for his mother’s funeral. The tale of how Holmes cleared Mrs. Wiggins unfolds in bits and pieces by Holmes and by Lestrade, also attending the funeral. Simultaneously, their current case also progresses, and Peter has a role in its success. A long story, beautifully told.

Tangled Skeins will be released April 12, 2015, but can be pre-ordered  HERE.

You can order it RIGHT NOW at Strand Magazine HERE .

David Marcum, when not
wearing his Deerstalker hat. 
You can visit David Marcum and his books at his Amazon author page HERE
                                                        You can also visit him on Facebook HERE .
And you can find other cool Sherlock Holmes books at MX Publishing HERE

16 comments:

  1. Madam, I have long awaited the vaults of bank Cox and Co., at Charing Cross, to yield up yet another travel-worn and battered tin dispatch-box --inside of which it is always 1895-- and look forward to reading the pastiches you have so excellently reviewed. Will they be for sale in our city?

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  2. Hi, George, thanks for your visit and comment. They can shipped to you once the book is released.

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  3. Sherlock Holmes adventures are always fun...I even like the new one that is on TV, but especially the introduction at the beginning of the show. Very unique.

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  4. Hi, LInda. You are so right. Sherlock never seems to get old. The adventures are always appealing -- although I like the versions that follow the Victorian setting the best.

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  5. This sounds so great! I just pre-ordered it! I tried to preorder your Imogene book (LOVE that cover), but it took me to a UK site (are you in the UK? I didn't realize that~ I know you travel to Spain quite a bit and I suppose being in the UK would make that much more convenient than being in the States :)). I tried the other link, but it didn't work for me~ my computer's acting up lately, so it might have been on my end. Will try again tomorrow!

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  6. Hi, Jessica, thanks for your wonderful comment. I'm so glad you've ordered his book. Actually, my book can be pre-ordered at the UK site that you went to for Imogene, and the American site will send the book to you.

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    1. I just ordered it via Book Depository!

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    2. Great! Thank you so much for the support.

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  7. This sounds like a great read for all of us who love Sherlock and Watson!

    Also, I wasn't sure how to contact you, but Mary Waibel and I had giveaways on our blogs last week and you won :) Mind dropping me an email at mhouston@meradethhouston.com? :) This is the post announcement http://meradethhouston.blogspot.com/2015/03/how-to-get-that-chemistry-and-cover.html#.VRK-kZPF-Ad.

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  8. Thanks for stopping by, Meradeth. It is a great read. Meanwhile, I'm excited I won. An email is on the way.

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  9. This sounds like a lot of fun. I think The Mystery at Kerrett's Root with the ghost story would be a favorite for me. Thanks for telling me about this.

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  10. Rosi, I think you would get a kick out of the introduction. And then the stories are such good puzzles to solve.

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  11. The Sherlock Holmes stories are so amazing--almost like fairy tales in their ability to endure and find a readership with every generation. And the many takes on expanding the oeuvre are lovely.

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    1. Thanks an interesting comparison, Connie. I think you're right. They've just taken on this enduring life of their own.

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  12. I've always been a Sherlock Holmes fan, so this sounds perfect. Thank you so much for featuring this pastiche here.

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    1. Hi, Lee, glad you enjoyed it. The book is really great.

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