Sherlock Holmes-related book ‘The Continuity Girl’ showcases a novel way of publishing

charlotte-and-patrickWhat if you could get involved in the next bestseller in the Sherlock Holmes universe right from the start?

There’s no use phoning up the likes of Mark Gatiss or Guy Ritchie and saying, ‘If I give you a tenner, can I be part of your next project?’ because they’d probably tell you to get lost – assuming you could even find their phone number in the first place. But give author Patrick Kincaid a tenner, and he’d be cock-a-hoop, and you’d get your name listed in the back of his book as a patron.

Patrick is looking for pledges on the Unbound publishing platform towards his new novel, The Continuity Girl – a book set around the filming of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes by Billy Wilder in 1970. You can pledge as little as £10 to become part of the project, and have that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from helping someone – even if you are secretly thinking, ‘If this becomes a film, I might get to hob nob on set for a few days…’

Husband says: ‘Yes but why are you writing about it? There are loads of Holmes books and projects out there, so why this one?’ In other words, ‘Why have you given ten of our hard-earned pounds to some bloke from Coventry who’s done a book?’

Well, I do see his point. There really are so many books and short stories out there involving Holmes that it’s becoming a landslide. But for me, this one stands out as offering something a little different. It’s a fusion of things Holmes fans will love, and an altogether different story with universal appeal. Could this be the sort of palate-cleansing treatment we need after the emotional roller coaster ride of Sherlock series four?

I bumped into Patrick in his home town of Coventry and we had a good old natter about all things Sherlock Holmes, publishing and The Continuity Girl. He’s a thoroughly decent bloke, a writer going it alone without the backing of an agent or large publisher – writing away furiously while still holding down a full-time job as an English teacher. It’s hard, I should know. He has a PhD in Shakespeare Studies from the Shakespeare Institute and used that research to write his first novel, a detailed historical book about the run-up to the Gunpowder Plot. This gave Patrick a thirst for writing which has remained a passion. His story, ‘The Doll and His Maker’ was published as part of the ‘Sherlock’s Home, The Empty House’ anthology and remains my favourite in the collection.

Patrick describes The Continuity Girl as, ‘A comic love story with two plots that eventually converge. In 2014, the discovery of a full cut of Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes leads film scholar Gemma MacDonald to make contact with the movie’s continuity supervisor, April Korzeniowski (she’s my invention – it was really Elaine Schreyek). In 1969, dedicated Loch Ness monster hunter Jim Outhwaite is put out by the arrival of a film crew in the vicinity, until he meets the film’s continuity girl, April Bloom… Nothing is quite how it seems, however, and – much as in a Billy Wilder film – it’s not always clear who you can trust.’

Patrick was inspired by a trip to the Highlands on his honeymoon, and a boat tour of Loch Ness complete with a real-life Nessie hunter who was there during filming of The Private Life. Patrick is a life-long Sherlock Holmes fan and feels that the film has become very important to the way we view Holmes, as well as inspiring Mark Gatiss and being key in the development of BBC Sherlock. ‘It’s very Millenial, it’s fan fic before there was fan fic. It doesn’t just give us more of Holmes, it tries to unpick what lies behind his character. And of course, it’s interested in his sex life!’

Always a devotee of the canon, I had to ask whether anything from it features in The Continuity Girl. ‘At the beginning, my main protagonist, Jim, has never read a Sherlock Holmes story,’ Patrick explains. ‘His boss recommends them to him when he gets upset about the arrival of the film crew, and over the course of the novel he becomes a fan. I use a couple of the stories as a way of commenting on what’s going on in his life: The Man with the Twisted Lip (my personal favourite) and A Scandal in Bohemia.’

Patrick’s had lots of interesting support so far. The satirical novelist Jonathan Coe (What a Carve Up!, The Rotter’s Club) has promised an interview about his own obsession with The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Kim Newman (Anno Dracula, Professor Moriarty: The Hound of the D’Urbervilles) has also been supportive. There has been interest from others connected with the film and funding on Unbound has now reached 64%. But it needs to reach 100% for the book to be published.

‘Unbound are a fairly new publisher created by John Mitchinson and Justin Pollard (creators of TV show QI) and Dan Kieran,’ says Patrick. ‘It punches above its weight by crowdfunding all projects initially, whether they’re by a newbie like me or an established writer like Terry Jones or Raymond Briggs. Because authors post articles about their process in their writer’s ‘Shed’, it feels like you’re in constant dialogue with the people who want to read the finished book. That’s very exciting.’

Here, Unbound is giving a chance to get involved with an interesting Sherlock Holmes project by a new author. Certainly, in the Holmesian world, you only tend to hear about the next big thing once it’s already too big for you to interact with. But, now you have chance to give support and link up with a talented author before he, and his book, hit the big time. Head over to Patrick’s page on Unbound for more information –

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BBC Sherlock: The Final Problem – review

**final_problem_*Spoiler Alert***

The problem with The Final Problem was trying to follow what the hell was going on. I scratched my head so much during the ninety minutes my scalp felt like I’d had an attack of nits.

Crime/mystery solving was put on the back-burner for lots of emotional Holmes family stuff, Sherlock-John bromance, more dialogue than Shakespeare, lots of shots of Sherlock looking emotional, Mycroft trying not to look emotional, and John somewhere in between. We had a plot that made little sense, and a mish-mash of genres, (horror, action, melodrama, Kafkaesque nightmare.)

Turns out there’s another Holmes sibling and, yes, you’ve guessed it, she’s also an extraordinary genius. Mr and Mrs Holmes were kicking out some incredible genes. And she’s not just any old extraordinary genius, oh no that would be too simple – she’s an ‘Era defining genius’ with what appears to be supernatural powers, the ability to influence people’s behaviour within minutes of talking to them. She can predict the dates of major terrorist attacks after just five minutes on Twitter, even though she’s spent most of her life in a high-security prison.

Why does everything have to be so extreme? Like Mary being a super-spy/assassin? Isn’t this a rookie mistake, like when A level media students are let loose with a camera for the first time and make a dramatic piece filmed in the school bogs full of swearing, fighting and smoking, a sort-of Tarantino meets Grange Hill? The Final Problem just felt like one big adolescent, over-excited, student film – except for one key difference, the BBC had given them millions – not the school camcorder which had a crack in the lens and had to be returned to the drama cupboard by 3.30pm.

It’s a mistake many new writers make, you get too excited, too carried away with your own characters and loose critical distance – I know, I’ve done it myself. But, over the years you learn to take those all-important steps back, to be critical and rein yourself in before unleashing your work on the world. Why didn’t Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss do this here? Are they just surrounded by too many infatuated ‘yes’ people and a BBC too terrified of losing the show to another channel that all the usual checks have been removed, no one dares to say, ‘But it doesn’t make any sense, it’s too implausible, too extreme…’

I wanted to enjoy this episode, I had enjoyed the previous two. But, I can’t enjoy something I don’t understand, something so implausible, nonsensical, that it made me feel stupid and frustrated because I couldn’t follow it. And all that melodramatic, high-angst emotion, it was too much.

Could Sherlock really have forgotten he had a sister? Forgotten his best mate Trevor and how she threw him down a well? Was it really that easy for Eurus to escape her high security prison island and cause all this mayhem? Why did Mycroft take her back there as she had found it so easy to escape before? How did Mycroft arrange for her to be there in the first place when he would have only been a child himself at the time?

Who’s been looking after John’s baby while he’s away helping his mate (who he’s obviously now forgiven for causing the death of the child’s mother) defeat evil-genius sister? Why doesn’t he even mention the poor child, even when facing his own death? How did he survive Eurus shooting him at the end of the last episode? (Oh, I do know that one, it was a tranquiliser dart.) How did they survive the blast at Baker Street? And what about all that stuff with the little girl on the plane? It was a metaphor for Eurus’ loneliness – Really? Sherlock hugged her and now she’s fine? No longer an evil-genius just a plain old violin playing genius? ARGGGGGGG! Brain-freeze!

Perhaps we are just meant to look at it as a beautiful work of art and not understand it. That’s not really what I pay my TV licence to the BBC for though.

The canon got put on the backburner completely, names were thrown in but their use bared no resemblance to the original at all. Musgrave Hall has now become Sherlock’s ancestral home (a bit like Skyfall in Bond – more Bond references), The three Garridebs popped up but as three brothers suspected of murder and then killed by Eurus Holmes. Poor Victor Trevor became a childhood friend of Sherlock’s who Eurus pushed down a well. And the episode itself, though bearing the name The Final Problem, bore absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the Final Problem in the original canon. Don’t just throw the names in, that’s not enough.

As always, the acting was great – Sian Brooke did her very best to make Eurus as believable as she could. Benedict Cumberbatch had to do so much non-stop emotion that the poor lamb must have been exhausted by the end and in need of therapy. Art Malik did a great job of playing everything straight while all around him was chaos. It was beautifully shot, great cinematography, very dramatic with explosions, murders, scary clowns, a concrete prison on an island in a stormy grey sea. It wasn’t devoid of positives and I do want to try and write a balanced review but honestly, I’m struggling.

Perhaps this will be the last-ever series. The ‘everything-is-back-to-normal-now’ ending would suggest otherwise but perhaps they are just leaving their options open. If this is the end, I do think that despite all the criticism, we must acknowledge what a fantastic achievement the show has been.

The first two series were, in my opinion, some of the best television I have ever seen. The show has won massive critical acclaim, many awards, achieved consistently high viewing figures, been sold to 240 different territories, generated thousands of press articles, blogs, online reviews, the excellent fan site Sherlockology, inspired thousands of works of fanfiction, fan art, a devoted following. It’s boosted sales of the original cannon and re-invigorated interest in all things Sherlock Holmes.

It’s been a phenomenon, divided opinion but certainly got everyone talking. Moffat and Gatiss are clearly highly creative individuals with a genuine love of the canon, they have assembled a fantastic cast who have gone on to become huge stars. I salute their vision, their creativity and thank them for Sherlock, particularly those first two series – A Scandal in Belgravia being as close to perfection as I think any episode of a TV show has ever been. If Sherlock ever comes back, please let it come back to that.

And finally, the big question – did Husband stay awake? No, lasted about ten minutes. So, that’s two out of three for series four on the Tim sleep-o-metre. So close guys, so very close…  

Agree with my thoughts? I thought not. Post your review and comments below.

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BBC Sherlock: The Lying Detective – review

***Contains spoilers***toby-jones

The game is certainly on, and the creative team behind this exhilarating fourth series keep on raising theirs to dizzying new heights.

The Lying Detective was a pure, 90-minute adrenaline-rush full of action, suspense, visual quirks, frenetic editing and a brilliant Toby Jones as uber-villain Culverton Smith.

Once again, the team have framed the episode around a single story from the canon, in this case The Dying Detective. It was a clever upgrading of the original story in which Holmes faked a fatal illness to entice a confession from murderer and tropical disease expert Culverton Smith.

In Lying Detective, we have a Smith who is hiding-in-plain-sight as a wealthy philanthropist, using his money and celebrity to conceal his serial killings. Sherlock’s descent into a drug-fuelled mania leads to a stay in the hospital Smith has funded, luring the killer to Sherlock’s bedside. Sherlock extracts a confession before Smith attempts to strangle him and John bursts into the room just in time to save him.

Unlike in the original where Watson hides and hears the confession, this time it is a listening device hidden in John’s old walking stick which ultimately proves to be Smith’s downfall. Clever stuff, a decent way of re-telling the story in a modern context and weaving it into an ongoing narrative about John’s anger towards Sherlock for Mary’s death, ultimately finding a way to bring John back into Sherlock’s world. Poor John, there really is no escape, even his new therapist turns out to be Sherlock’s sister. Right from the start I thought that the red rug under his chair in the therapist’s office, which looked like a giant blood stain, hinted at impending doom.

I really like this new style of focusing on just one original story and hanging the whole episode on it. Much better I think, than their previous ‘pick and mix approach’. Yet again we have a good balance of drama and some heartfelt emotion. I think the script in this episode was particularly strong, such as when Sherlock talks of Mary saying – ‘By saving my life she incurred a currency on it, it is a credit I don’t know how to spend.’

Benedict Cumberbatch gets plenty of meat to sink his experienced acting chops into. Lines like that were delivered with perfection, and his expression after John attacks him, that close-up as he’s on the hospital floor – his face was so full of pain and emotion that personally I think it was more heart-wrenching than the ‘hug that broke the internet.’

In Lying Detective, we see a very emotional Sherlock, able to express feelings, to embrace his friend recognising his pain. In contrast, John has become very self-contained, far less likable. This is an interesting dynamic which they have explored well.

Again, we have plenty of good canon references, even the sister is called Euros, the East Wind (As in, there’s an East wind coming…) And just like in the Dying Detective, it is Mrs Hudson who implores John to come to the aid of his terribly ill friend. But this time she does it in an Aston Martin bless her. I do love how they’ve grown the Mrs Hudson role and Una Stubbs is so perfect for it, she’s a gem and probably having the time of her life as the lynch-pin of the whole show.

The pace was blistering and held my attention entirely for the whole 90 minutes. Husband stayed awake too, that’s two out of three so far for series four – the best barometer for success that I know of. Will next week’s episode achieve a hat-trick on the Tim sleep-o-meter?

I wrote copious notes and could write a very long blog indeed about this episode if I, one – could read my writing, and two, wasn’t bothered about boring people to death. So, to sum up, I really enjoyed this episode, the balance was there between emotional drama, deductions, crime, good v evil. Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Toby Jones, Una Stubbs and Amanda Abbington were all superb. The characterisation of Smith was very strong, he got right under my skin, very creepy – far better in my opinion than Milverton.

But, there were problems and it is impossible to ignore then. How do we all feel about John’s violence towards Sherlock? It was a bit uncomfortable to watch and perhaps a step too far from the canon. And the way Sherlock absolutely dominates John’s life from the death of his wife to the whole therapist/sister-shooting him-thing, there really is no escape. It is a controlling relationship and hard to see what John gets out of it any more.

How come Sherlock didn’t recognise his own sister? Surely the world’s greatest detective with unrivalled observational skills would have seen through her disguise? So, who’s Sherringford? Is there another brother as well? Will it be Tom Hiddleston or was that just a very clever red-herring to put us all on the wrong track? And as Husband asked, what did Sherlock actually lie about?

Why did all the people in the meeting with Culverton Smith so willingly take the TD12 memory-altering drug? I’d have shouted, ‘Bugger off you lunatic!’ and run from the room.

Was John’s visions of Mary a bit of a lazy plot device? Or was it the only way of showing the conflict in his mind about Sherlock as he wasn’t really talking to anyone about his feelings?

How funny that after so many reviewers complained last week about how they have turned Sherlock into James Bond, he suddenly turns up in the boot of an Aston Martin? That did raise a smile.

There has been too much use of slow-motion in this series, it’s become the new mind palace.

The constant chopping up of the chronological order did make it very hard to follow. All the flashes back and forward were too much. It was a good way of showing the drug-addled confusion in Sherlock’s mind but hell to follow. Is that what Gatiss and Moffat want? They want us to work hard? Is that the point? This is event television, it demands your full attention. Or is it just too clever?

My biggest gripe however, was the heavy shades of Jimmy Savile in the characterisation of Culverton Smith. It did make for uncomfortable viewing at times, knowing that someone had done this in real life – funding a hospital then using it as your own personal playground for unspeakable things. Smith even had a set of keys just like the unfettered access Savile enjoyed at Stoke Manderville hospital, which he re-built through his charitable work then used as a cover for his abuse of vulnerable patients. I think the episode came too close to this real-life horror, even giving Smith a Yorkshire background, showing him being adored by children at the hospital etc. I think this was a mistake, the Savile story is too raw, too horrible and they should have stayed away from it in my opinion.

I read a review last week which slammed The Six Thatchers for its over-the-top plot which they felt was impossible to follow. They asked an interesting question, are we in a post-plot era? In these times of clever, quick, slick dramas does plot (or at least, one you can really follow and truly understand) take a back-seat in preference to a very attractive, well dressed cast and stylish presentation? Has plot become less important? Has clever dialogue, style and cinematography taken over from plot? Interesting to note though, last night’s episode got less viewers than Six Thatchers, and less than BBC’s Countryfile and even the Antiques Roadshow!  Something which will please my father who’s been AR’s biggest fan for the past thirty years. Will Sherlock’s fandom endure in the same way? Or is it already starting to wane?

Click here to read my review of The Six Thatchers.

Agree with my thoughts? Post your comments or your own review below.

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BBC Sherlock: A triumphant return to form in The Six Thatchers – review

sherlock_4-1_29***Contains spoilers***

As I was disappointed by the direction taken in series three, I didn’t hold out much hope for the return of BBC Sherlock. After a three year wait for the series to return and endless hype, Hollywood-style trailers, speculation and intense marketing (even announcing the birth of John and Mary’s baby in the Daily Telegraph), I was fearing the worst. It all seemed to point towards more of the over-indulgent, pretentious cleverness which, in my opinion, spoilt series three.

 The first episode of series four, The Six Thatchers, aired on the BBC last night and I loved it, I really loved it. Finally, we see a return to the magic of the first two series, a terrifically good plot which was gripping, exciting, made sense (just about!) and contained brilliant deductions staying true to the science of deduction central to Holmes’ unique character. I also think the canon was treated far better here, sticking much more closely to the essence of the original stories which shaped this new narrative.

The episode was an amalgamation of two stories from the canon, The Six Napoleons and The Sign of Four. Both were cleverly worked into this new tale while containing lots of recognisable elements, from AGRA to the Borgia pearls, the smashing of plaster busts of Margaret Thatcher (described in the episode as the ‘new Napoleon’) – even the detail of the busts being smashed under a porch-light so that the burglar could look for their hidden contents. I loved the reference to the Wigmore Street post office too. Much thought and care went into maintaining the integrity of those two original stories, updating them to our modern world and using them as a device to further their own plot. I applaud this heartily, and know how difficult it is to do.

I loved watching Sherlock being a detective again, Lestrade bringing him a case and he deducing the hell out of it. The dialogue was, at times, hilarious, the pace remained high-octane, the editing slick and highly stylised, and the acting by Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman et al was superb. Even Husband stayed awake all the way through, he nodded off during every episode of series three and after about three minutes of The Bride.

I even started to like Mary more, and it was very appropriate to bring in Sign of Four references – this was the story in which we first encountered Mary Morstan. Here, I think we truly encountered this new Mary for the first time, seeing a more fleshed-out and believable character than the one we met in series three (who always felt a bit too extreme and hurriedly thrown in for my liking.)

Series three felt so over the top, not exactly less is more – rather just more, more, more. But here they managed to get the balance right overall, there was that lightness of touch, that little bit of restraint. Not too much, but enough to make it creditable without losing that very distinctive style Moffat and Gatiss have.

For the sake of balance, there were some things I didn’t really think worked but none of them were deal-breakers. Poor Sherlock has ended up in a state about breaking his vow and failing to protect Mary, but what about John? What about the vow he made when he got married to forsake all others? There he is texting some girl he met on a bus just after his wife has given birth to their first child. For me, this did detract from John’s grief as he cradled his dying wife. As the makers said, in this series Sherlock becomes less of a dick and John more of a dick – I see what they mean now.

What was the point of Mary fleeing abroad when finding out her ex-agent buddy wanted her dead? Surely, if you are an elite, highly trained agent, you would simply stay in London, track him down and neutralise the threat? Not hop off to umpteen different countries, with lots of new identities? This felt like pointless filler to me, needing something to make up the ninety minutes. It was too extreme, a moment where the balance was lost.

Would a new mother really take a bullet and die for her husband’s best friend? Would she really leave her child motherless and her husband widowed however much she cared for Sherlock? And if there was time for her to get in front of that bullet, couldn’t he have simply moved out of the way himself?

But these minor niggles don’t really matter, they just make for some interesting post-episode discussion.

I loved The Six Thatchers, I felt like fist-pumping the air. And I was beginning to fear I would never feel like that about Sherlock again. Will this really be the last ever series as some are speculating? Have they saved the best till last? Let’s see what they do with Culverton Smith in the next episode before rushing to judgement, but it’s safe to say that the signs are looking very good. Signs, Sign of Four, get it? No, fair enough – I’ll leave the humour to Moffat and Gatiss.

Agree with my thoughts? Post your views below.

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Guess who’s back? 90 second trailer heralds the return of the BBC Sherlock juggernaut

sherlockThere I was still trying to recover from the shock of Jane not winning the Great British Bake Off, and suddenly a trailer for series four of BBC Sherlock jumps onto the screen. Aired in typically dramatic fashion after the finale of one of BBC’s most popular shows, the 90 second Hollywood-style trailer was a tantalising promise of what is to come, (and a reminder that the BBC hasn’t lost all its top programmes.)

 So it is now confirmed that Sherlock, (and possibly Moriarty,) will be back on New Year’s Day – 01/01/17. How do I feel? Mixed emotions. After the highs of the first two series and the lows of series three and the one-off Christmas special, I just don’t know what to expect. I must admit, the trailer was great – full of drama, action, perhaps a bit over the top but hinting at a return to the mystery-based, thriller style which I think made the first two series so great. Or will it be the self-indulgent, Sherlock and John love-in which I felt the last instalments became?

Hopefully, it will be a perfectly-balanced blend of the two this time, delivered with a lightness of touch and clever brilliance giving new insight into Sherlock’s development as a character. The trailer bodes well, but I can’t help fearing the worst.

 The image of the violin with it’s broken string is very strong, but what will finally break Sherlock? Harm befalling those he cares for? Losing the game? Being wrong? How will Benedict Cumberbatch deliver this? Can’t wait to find out. Please let’s have a Sherlock episode I can love again, write blogs full of praise about. It seems like a lifetime ago when I last did that. But I‘ve never given up hope. Only two months to go!

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The joy of audiobooks, of hearing someone else’s voice bringing your words to life…

identityToday I heard someone else reading out one of my stories for the first time. A Question of Identity has been brought out as an audio book by MX Publishing and narrated by actor Steve White.

It was a joy to listen to, Steve’s voice so rich and full of character, rising well to the challenge of having to do so many different accents in one story – RP, Northern, Birmingham and Pakistani. He has really brought the story to life.

 There’s something so relaxing about listening to an audiobook, there I was doing the ironing as the words flowed out from my laptop filling the room, sounding so much more alive than if they were simply going on in my head. Audiobooks breathe life into stories, give them levels of characterisation and a richness beyond the humble page.

Listening to A Question of Identity also reminded me of how much I’d enjoyed writing it, what a pleasure it was to delve into Conan Doyle’s A Case of Identity and update it to present day. The themes it contained are still so relevant today, so timeless – a young girl’s love for a mysterious boyfriend, the wicked step-father, the clever consultant solving the case. Conan Doyle managed to be both of his time and ahead of his time in so many ways. Adapting and re interpreting his works remains a constant pleasure and privilege.

You can download ‘A Question of Identity’ here.

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Review – Bonnie MacBird’s Art in the Blood

art in BloodLet’s face it – there are thousands of Sherlock Holmes pastiches out there. The world and his dog have all had a go at trying to re-capture the magic of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories with very varied degrees of success. Some try to ‘do their own thing’ with the world’s favourite consulting detective, putting him in space, the future, New York, modern day, into sexual relationships (both straight, gay and both) or simply weave him into another character’s story. But most try to write a story, narrated by Dr Watson, which sounds so authentic it’s as if someone has uncovered a lost manuscript from the pen of Doyle himself (or Watson, if you prefer to play the great game.) Sadly, almost all fail in recreating Watson’s voice and the genius of Doyle’s story-telling.

So it’s always nice to come across a book like Art in the Blood, a Sherlock Holmes novel written in the traditional style by author Bonnie MacBird and published by HarperCollins. I must confess here that I do consider Bonnie a personal friend, but I think that actually gives me a good insight into understanding why her debut novel is so enjoyable – she is a genuine, knowledgeable, passionate fan of the canon (as well as of Jeremy Brett and BBC Sherlock.) This isn’t some cynical attempt by a writer to cash-in on the current popularity of Holmes, this is a labour of love – and it shows.

Art in the Blood is meticulously researched and written in the true spirit of the original Sherlock Holmes stories. It is full of subtle, well-placed canon references and both historical and geographical accuracies that give it real gravitas. The author has done an excellent job of re-creating that warm, humorous, self-deprecating, no-nonsense voice of Dr Watson that all Sherlockians know and love. The friendship between Holmes and Watson sings out from the pages and is both touching and authentic. The science of deduction, the very exact and unique way in which Holmes reaches his conclusions in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original works, is well replicated here and very cleverly explained.

The plot itself is great fun – a beautiful French singer, a missing love-child, the theft of a priceless work of art, all woven together into a tale which soon becomes hard to put down. We have a very capable Watson, intelligent and brave, willing to risk his own safety for his friend. In Holmes we see the imperfections we all love to analyse, his drug use, his malaise when in need of work, his ferocious energy when set upon a case. It’s so hard to get these elements right, but Bonnie MacBird has mastered it. There is a lightness of touch here which is so often lacking in pastiche, and the novel is all the more enjoyable for it.

After finishing Art in the Blood, I made the mistake of watching ITV’s Houdini and Doyle which I had recorded from earlier in the week. From one extreme to another! But I’ll save my thoughts on that for another blog…


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