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?