Book Review: The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: edited by John Joseph Adams (Four Stars)

19386511Book Review: The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, edited by John Joseph Adams

(Four Stars)

“Speculations about the mental state of suspects are rarely so fruitful as concentration on the salient facts of the case.”

This anthology breaks the curse of mediocrity which bedevils the category. Worth reading to see how accomplished authors of various genres breathe new life into the familiar tropes of the classic detective duo.

“I wish you all the happiness you deserve.”

Each author puts his or her spin on Holmes, of course, but some manage to turn Holmes and Victorian England upside down. Often to entertaining effect. We find Holmes as a famous serial killer, homosexual, virgin, mystic, and a concert violinist, not to mention Continue reading

Book Review: Clouds of Witness by Dorothy Sayers (Four Stars)


Book Review: Clouds of Witness (Lord Peter Wimsey #2) by Dorothy Sayers

Four Stars

“Beliefs don’t matter. It’s what you know about people.”

Readers who like 1926 tongue-in-cheek detective stories of manners and fans of Downton Abbey, will find this just their cup of tea. Others, not so much. The reader is assumed to be literate in French, which I’m not. I muddled through.

“Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an adult old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force.”

Lord Peter’s brother, the Duke of Denver, is accused of murder. Suddenly Peter’s embarrassing hobby–sleuthing–may save Duke Gerald’s title … and neck.The title gives away the twist: too many witnesses to too much, some of it misleading or simply untrue.

I’ve read this book before. Don’t know where or when. I suspect in ebook format, so it couldn’t have been that long ago.

“Contrast is life.”

Book Review: Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers (Three Stars)


Book Review: Whose Body? (Lord Peter Whimsey #1) by Dorothy Sayers

Three Stars

“It’s a wonderful the ideas these rich men with nothing to do get into their heads.”

First published in 1923, this is a dated but enjoyable detective fiction by the sole female associated with the Inklings. Storytelling is tedious with frequent repetition and long narrative exposition, the tone is light and enjoyable.

“The franker you are with people, the more likely you are to deceive them; so unused is the modern world to the open hand and guileless heart, what?”

The central premise of this tale: whose body is which of a pair–one missing and one found, but clearly not the same person–is justified so poorly in the end, but the reader will have been hooked by then and won’t care.

“I love trifling circumstances; so many men have been hanged by trifling circumstances.”

Beneath the breezy English nobility send up is a darker backstory of “shell shock” (as they called post-traumatic stress after World War One) and changing cultural mores. Sly references to how real investigation differs from fictional, especially Holmesian.

“There’s nothing you can’t prove if your outlook is only sufficiently limited.”