Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Two Book Reviews for Sherlock Lovers

Two books for Sherlock lovers. The first for children, the second for adults:

The first book is Curse of the Deadly Dinosaur, written by Derrick Belanger and illustrated by Brian Belanger. 7-to-12 year-olds will enjoy this latest adventure starring Emma and Jimmy McDougall, twin sleuths that work with Sherlock Holmes.

It’s Christmastime, and the McDougalls have just finished decorating their tree, when they are visited by none other than Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock’s older brother. Their services are needed by Sherlock, as well as those of Toby, a dog who has helped Sherlock before.

At 221b Baker Street, the twins meet Jonas Bogswell from a farming village in Surrey. He has come to Sherlock for help because a dinosaur – that’s right – is killing sheep on the local farms. Because of an old legend the local fortune teller remembers, the Bogswell family is being shunned for bringing bad luck to the village. The entire McDougall family accompanies Sherlock and Dr. Watson to the village. They stay with Bogswell family. One by one, events unfold that make the McDougalls believers in this dinosaur.

Several things make this a pleasurable read: The author has a good sense of pacing and suspense. Clues are believable and scattered like bread crumbs to keep a reader turning the page, and tension heightens all the way through. Despite Mrs. McDougall’s insistence that the twins cannot join the dangerous hunt for the dinosaur, Emma and Jimmy  encounter the beast in some really scary scenes that kids will love. The twins are well drawn in ways that demonstrate why they are good detectives and in ways that complement each other, and the climax is a satisfying surprise.

A nice touch Belanger includes in his books is the use of footnotes in the form of “fun facts” at the bottom of pages involved. These really are fun facts, and they don’t interrupt the flow of the story.

At the end of this satisfying adventure, a reader is promised more to come. With Christmas near at hand, this book would make a nice gift under the tree.

Contact information:
 You can order Curse of the Deadly Dinosaur at:

Harry deMaio's A Case of Scotch, as even the title suggests, is a book for adults, not children -- and for adults who like word play and clever allusions to people and places. It's the author's third book in this one-of-a-kind” series. 

In the alternate universe of Octavius Bear, a solar flare rendered Homo Sapiens extinct and made all other mammals evolve exponentially. Octavius Bear, the wealthy Kodiak scientist and leading detective in each book is writing an erudite history when he is not solving cases with the help of his team -- a meerkat (African mongoose) named Maury who plays Dr. Watson to the bear’s Sherlock, two wolves, a porcupine, and an otter, among others.

This particular case kicks off with an R & R visit to Bearmoral Castle in the Shetland Islands in Scotland. (Thus the title.) The castle was inherited by Octavius’s new wife, Belinda when her first husband, Bearon Byron Bruin, passed away. But strange things have been happening lately on the premises and in the nearby oilfields, doing away with the anticipated R & R. Mysterious power outages occur. Platforms appear and disappear among the oil rigs. An elevator shaft seems to go nowhere but turns out to have lethal destinations. When a family member is found dead, the game is “apaw”. 
Other characters who figure in this adventure is a slinky cheetah (named Chita) with an unsavory past who owns a North Sea oil rig, Belinda’s obnoxious bruin in-laws, and a group of wildcats who hang out at a local pub, drowning their sorrows over the fact that their oil production is down.

There is lots of action in this complex mystery, and all the characters are truly humorous. The author tells the story “tongue in cheek” all the way, with allusions and puns that kept making me smile, even while I was trying to figure out “who dunnit”. Maury the meerkat is the main narrator. His narration is supplemented by excerpts from Chita’s memoir and Octavius’s rather pedantic history of the world. Each chapter begins with a clever limerick that sets the tone for unfolding events.

Occasionally there was a point-of-view bump, and the huge cast of characters kept me flipping back to the roster at the beginning to make sure I knew who was who and what their role was. That said, this is a real romp of a book readers will enjoy.

Contact Information:
You can buy A Case of Scotch at:

Are you a Sherlock Holmes fan? If so, what are some of your favorite tales from both the canon and pastiches? Are you a mystery fan? I love a good mystery and am always looking for a good recommendation.


  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you. These both sound like they would be fun for Sherlock fans. Thanks for the reviews. I hadn't heard of them.

  2. Hi, Rosi, there is a real wealth of Sherlock related mysteries that you can find at MX Publishing. An "embarrassment of riches"!