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

Friday, March 20, 2015

Celebration Time Again - A Good Book and a School Visit Coming Up

Friday seems to arrive pretty fast these days, as I run around arranging book signings, reviews, etc. for my book that's being published June 15th, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls.

My celebrations this week:
1. A terrific book I read - Tangled Skeins, by David Marcum. I'll be reviewing it next week, so please come back to learn more about this good read. (Pssst - it involves Sherlock Holmes.)

2. A school visit that's coming up in April. I'll be going from classroom to class room to read from my book and sign copies.

Celebrate the small things is a blog hop co-hosted by L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The EdgeKatie @ TheCyborgMom, and Lexa Cain @ Lexa Cain .  
Mosey on over to Lexa Cain's blog to see all the links and to add your links to the list. Have a great day.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Celebrating an Art Show and a Book Signing Coming Up

Today I'm celebrating two nifty events coming up, one soon, and one next month.

The soon one is tomorrow: My after school art club at the South Natomas Community Center is having their art show in the window of University Art Store, at J and 26th, in Sacramento. These kids are wonderful artists, ages 8 to 13.

The one next month is a book signing I'm having at Time Tested Books, on 21st St. between K and L, in Sacramento. I'll post about it again, closer to the time. But this is for my new book, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, set in Victorian London and featuring a ten-year-old girl who helps Sherlock Holmes find her mother's missing pearls. (You can learn more about it by pressing on the book cover in the margin.)

This is a fun blog hop, and you can read other neat celebrations at Lexa Cain's blogsponsored by L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom . Also you can link up to other sites and add your own link. Enjoy. Be sure and visit Lexa's blog. And have a great day!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Belated Celebration

Last Friday I was too busy mounting pictures for the coming art show of the students in my after school art class at the community center to post my small celebrations.

But I do have one!

My poem, "Hold On", is in the new spring/summer anthology of The Stray Branch. The Anthology is $10.00 and chock full of good stories and poems. Check it out HERE.

You can read other neat celebrations at Lexa Cain's blogsponsored by L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom . Also you can link up to other sites and add your own link. Enjoy. Be sure and visit Lexa's blog.

Meanwhile, please visit my other blog, Elizabeth Varadan's Fourth Wish, (next door, so to speak), for a review of Terry Shames wonderful mystery series.