Holmes Resurrected

Sherlock Holmes the Missing Years: Japan by Vasudev Murthy is a refreshing wpid-20150327_102649-1.jpgnew Holmes mystery. Narrated by the ever faithful sidekick, Dr. Watson, the mystery begins with an ominous letter written in Sherlock Holmes handwriting instructing Watson to make haste from London to Yokohama.  Watson is shocked, but overjoyed because for the past few years, he believed Holmes was dead.

The remainder of the novel is a mad dash across continents and seas in order to reach Japan, foil the evil Professor Moriarty’s sinister plan, and escape several attempts upon their lives along the way.

Because this is a mystery, I have chosen not to give too much away.  One of the many things I enjoyed about this novel was the vivid travel log provided by the author in addition to a story I believe Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have approved of himself. I found it engaging, clever, and delightful.

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Changeling

Blackwpid-20150319_121353-1.jpg Diamonds by Catherine Bailey is a well-researched novel based on the Fitzwilliam family in England. the Fitzwilliams were wealthy land owners who made their fortune on the backs of others who mined coal deep beneath the land owned by the gentry.

Much like Bailey’s previous novel, this story involves the destruction of historic documents; leaving the reader to believe there were secrets the Fitzwilliams wanted hidden forever. The big mystery is whether or not one of the heirs to the title is in fact a child switched at birth in order that a male heir be produced to inherit the title and estate.

For anyone interested in knowing pretty much everything you could want to about life in England when coal was king, this is an interesting history. It is more about economics in England during the late 19th and 20th century than it is about the family Fitzwilliam. It is about the class system during that time as well.

There are many notable historic figures in this story. I however, found the stories related to the poor, struggling common men and women so much more interesting.

This is a long book with a great deal to digest. If you have the time and inclination, I think there’s much to be learned from it.

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Ogres & Dragons & Knights! Oh My!

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The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro is a magical novel which took me by surprise. I loved every minute of reading it.

The story transports us to a time soon after the reign of the legendary King Arthur. It is a time when an uneasy peace reigns in England between the Saxons and the Britons. As an elderly man and his wife set off on a quest to reunite with their long-lost son, they encounter other medieval people on quests of their own; all of whom are struggling to recover lost memories and people from their past. As the story unfolds, we discover the surprising cause behind “the mist”.

I think this is an amazing book by an incredible author. It is not a fairy tale, but rather a thought-provoking novel about life, love and human emotions.  I truly hope you will read it.

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With a Whimper

fscotWest of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan recounts the final years of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s personal and professional life in Hollywood. This novel reminded me of a movie entitled Beloved Infidel I dimly recollect from years ago starring Gregory Peck. I did however, find the story very interesting.

As we all know, Fitzgerald was one of the great writers of our time. Countless movies have been made based on the books he wrote. During the Jazz Age, he and his wife Zelda lived the high life; rubbing elbows with many other famous artists and writers. Theirs is a tragic story. Fitzgerald was an alcoholic and Zelda suffered from mental illness.

I thought this was a very sad story and found it even more sorrowful knowing it was true. Although much of the book is conjectured, it is based on truths which are widely known. The novel is populated with many famous Hollywood people who lived during that era. It also tells of Fitzgerald’s affair with a young female columnist, Sheila Graham, and his relationships with Zelda and their daughter, Scottie.

It took me some time to really engage in this book, but once I did, I felt I learned a great deal more than I had previously known about Fitzgerald and the times in which he lived. I am uncertain if the italicized quotes were fictional or not, but either way, I appreciated the story as it increased my knowledge of a great writer.

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Circus Parade

delicatePappa’s Delicate Condition (1952) by Corinne Griffith is an autobiography I discovered while watching the movie by the same name. What truly fascinated me about this book is that Griffith was a silent film star. After her movie career ended, she became an author. Hers is a real life Singing in the Rain story. Griffith had a successful career in film until the talkies came along.

This novel is the story of her early life in Texas and New Orleans. In particular, it is the story of her relationship with her father – a man she clearly idolized. Mr. Griffith enjoyed his libations; a sentiment not shared by the rest of the family, and understandably difficult for a young daughter to comprehend. Being with Pappa was an adventure!

I greatly enjoyed this colorful story and am grateful Griffith turned to writing after retiring from acting. She weaves a good tale.

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Sticky Fingers

2015Unbecoming is Rebecca Scherm’s first novel.  It is a story about a girl from Tennessee named Grace and her attempts to reinvent herself.  Wishing to live a life which she has been denied by birth, Grace tries to ingratiate herself into the family of a young man named Riley whose family with  married parents and four boys appears to be the answer to Grace’s dreams of normalcy and the feeling of being wanted.

This an interesting tale with unexpected twists and turns, a pathological liar, and several thefts.  The story takes place in the U.S. and Europe.  I thought it took too long to get to the climax of the story.  I do think it has a creative plot and wish the story had grabbed my interest sooner.  If you can get through the first three quarters of the book, the ending makes it all worth the wait.

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God Bless Us Every One

When I came to the end of A Midnight Carol by Patricia K. Davis, I wanted to turn back to the first page and read it all over again. I liked it that much!

This is a delightful, historical fiction based on Charles Dickens and the creation of his famous story The Christmas Carol. The novel is populated with vividly described characters, both real and imaginary. It provides insight into the political climate during the time in which Dickens lived and when he wrote his beloved stories, still treasured to this day.

A Midnight Carol was published in 1999 and I intend to acquire a copy with a grateful heart to add to my collection of holiday books. It is a keeper.

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