What can you find here? Reviews of new and not quite so new Sherlock Holmes novels and collections. Interviews with authors, link to blogs worth following, links to where you can purchase my books and some reviews of my work garnered from Amazon sites. Plus a few scary pics of me and a link to various Lyme Regis videos on YouTube...see what we do here and how....and indeed why!!! Next to the Lyme Regis Video Bar is a Jeremy Brett as Holmes Video Bar and now a Ross K Video Bar. And stories and poems galore in the archives.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

The Disappearance of Mr. James Phillimore

The Disappearance of Mr. James Phillimore is the fourth novel by Dan Andriacco to feature Sebastian McCabe, Jeff Cody and Lynda Teal (now Mrs Cody). The title obviously puts us in mind of the celebrated case of the original James Phillimore who, venturing back inside his house to retrieve his umbrella was never seen again. The present day (2012) Phillimore is a serial embezzler or at the very least, a fraudster, with an alluring, appealing actress wife and a fine taste in Berkshire mansions. Not only does he disappear in the 'classic' tradition, he also ends up dead. Enter McCabe and co who set about catching the murderer in their midst, a multiple murderer at that. This they do even allowing for the fact that Jeff and Lynda are on their honeymoon still....cue unexpected naps and the like. Tesoro mio indeed! With Lynda's yellow silk pyjamas it's a wonder Jeff can get anything done at all! The pacing is formidable, the dialogue sparkling with one liners abounding and wisecracks that Philip Marlowe would have admired. Topical too, with the News of the World hacking scandal, various bouts of corruption and most topical of all: the wet summer!! This is a very entertaining book indeed and throws into the mix a vast array of Holmesian insights and trivia. I found the character of Colonel Ruffle especially pleasing!! This series of novels by Dan Andriacco is becoming a byword for action-packed thrillers laced with a love of all things Sherlockian (If I may be American for a moment!). The bottom line them out.....and enjoy them.

The Disappearance of Mr James Phillimore is available from all good bookstores including Amazon USA,Barnes and Noble,  Amazon UK,  Waterstones UK and for all other countries Book Depository who offer free worldwide delivery. In electronic formats there is Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iPad.

Visit Dan's website:

Sunday 18 August 2013

Giant Moles!!

No, not the kind that require extensive facial surgery to repair, nor those that exhibit prodigious hair growth, but, well actually not giant moles at all. Damn, what a giveaway! No, this is the last in Mike Hogan's Holmes, Watson and young Winston Churchill trilogy. Now, this is very similar to the first two and by that I mean it is superb. Mike's gift for gentle, humourous dialogue is again on show.The by-play between the main characters is delicious without ever detracting from those characters themselves or indeed the plot, which itself is wonderful. The action takes us from London to the wilds of Herefordshire to the delightfully named Wormelow  Tump. (The tump being a supposed burial mound- in the name of progress the tump was flattened to widen the road in 1896!!). We encounter along the way, a balloonist who is of the greatest help to our heroes in a spot of night time aerial reconnaisance, a con man with a gift for portraying elderly clerics and manages to fool Watson into thinking he is Holmes in a great little scene on board a west bound train. We have missing papers of a delicate nature, a doctor intent on locking up his wife in an asylum for his own gain and two Arks, one of a covenantal nature and one of a Noah's nature, I kid ye not. The action, and there is a fair bit of it, is handled adroitly and excitingly. Oh and we have a certain Colonel Moran and a certain Professor who you may be familiar with.
And the giant moles I hear you ask? Well, they belong in Paradol Hall deep in that Herefordshire countryside.....take a visit there yourself in the company of Sherlock Holmes, Doctor John H Watson and Winston Spencer Churchill. Mike Hogan is one of the very pastiche writers working in a very crowded field and this is one of the best pastiches you are likely to come across this year, or indeed any year. I suggest you buy it.

And you can buy Mike's books here:
Sherlock Holmes and Young Winston: The Jubilee Plot  is available from all good bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon and Barnes and Noble, in the UK Amazon, Waterstones . Fans outside the US and UK can get free delivery from Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nookand Apple iBooks(iPad/iPhone).

Sherlock Holmes and Young Winston: The Deadwood Stage  is available from all good bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon and Barnes and Noble, in the UK Amazon, Waterstones . Fans outside the US and UK can get free delivery from Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nookand Apple iBooks(iPad/iPhone).

Sherlock Holmes and Young Winston: The Giant Moles  is available from all good bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazon and Barnes and Noble, in the UK Amazon, Waterstones . Fans outside the US and UK can get free delivery from Book Depository. In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nookand Apple iBooks(iPad/iPhone).


Sunday 11 August 2013

A companion piece.

A companion piece to my previous blog (you did read it surely...). This is an interview that author Paul Hayes gave and he gives great insights into the whys and wherefores of writing Sherlock Holmes fiction and of course, those pesky perilous pastiche pitfalls!

Hidden Tiger Books caught up with the author of Requiem for Sherlock Holmes in August 2012 to discuss his revival of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's great detective.

HIDDEN TIGER: How did you come to write Requiem for Sherlock Holmes?
PAUL STUART HAYES: I can honestly say that the book came about quite by accident. I wrote three short stories back in 2005 (two of which are included in this set; my first story didn't make the cut) and although the few people I dared show them to were extremely complimentary towards them, I decided not to continue with the writing – mainly due to work and family time constraints. It was only during the summer of 2011 that my elder brother, Alan (now also my editor) finally got to read them. When he had finished, the praise he gave me instantly inspired me to do more and within a fortnight I had completed my first story in six years, namely The Penitent Man. No sooner than that was done I began working on another story that gradually evolved into the novella, Sherlock Holmes and the Ancestral Horror, and it was only during the course of writing this adventure that the subject of publishing the stories was suggested.
HT: Why Sherlock Holmes?
PSH: Sherlock Holmes has been with me from an early age. After years of reading the books and watching numerous television and film adaptations, I feel that I know the stories inside out. Having read the pastiches of many other authors (my favourite of these being The Adventure of the Purple Hand by D.O. Smith), I thought that I'd have a stab at it myself. As the characters and settings are already in place, it can make writing a slightly easier task for a novice. However, as I discovered, writing pastiche is not without its pitfalls!
HT: How did you discover your love for the adventures of Holmes and Watson?
PSH: My father has been a fan of the great detective for as long as I can remember, and it was he who first introduced me to the stories when I was younger. I wasn't that great a reader in my younger days and probably read far too fast, hardly taking anything in, but enough must have passed into my undeveloped mind as it was not long before I was well and truly hooked.
HT: What was your thinking behind setting your Sherlock Holmes collection at a point in time after the character had died?
PSH: I wanted to place Doctor Watson compiling the collection towards the end of his life, so that I would be unhindered as to the timeframe within which I could place the stories. I also wanted to expand on Doctor Watson as a character, and came upon the idea of doing a story sans Holmes. The best way to achieve this in my mind was if Sherlock Holmes was no longer on the scene.
HT: The novella in the collection, Sherlock Holmes and the Ancestral Horror, introduces readers to Holmes' father. How keen were you to add to the Holmes mythos?
PSH: As there is barely a mention of Sherlock Holmes' family associations in the canon (bar the occasional appearances of his brother, Mycroft), it gave me free rein to let my imagination flow as to what his early life could have been like. It struck me that it presented me with the perfect opportunity to paint in a little detail of Holmes' past that could begin to explain some of his peculiarities in later life.
HT: Tradition or reinvention? Which do you favour in relation to Sherlock Holmes?
PSH: When I'm writing I adhere to the traditional format as best I can, as I am unwilling to stray too far from the constraints of the canon. However, outside of this I am open to all interpretations made on the subject of Sherlock Holmes. I greatly enjoy the BBC series Sherlock, and the fact that it is set in the modern day has been relatively easy for me to accept.
HT: How difficult was it getting your stories to work in relation to other adventures in the Conan Doyle canon?
PSH: It has been a major challenge. More often than not I would be working on a story, setting it in a particular year, only to find that the character I had introduced did not first appear in the canon until a few years later. This is one of the main stumbling blocks of pastiche, and it is one that I have hopefully avoided. I have worked very meticulously to fit my stories seamlessly into the Holmes timeline, so that at no point do they contradict the events in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's writings. An example would be if a story was mistakenly set after Holmes' retirement or during 'the great hiatus', the point in time between Holmes' supposed death in The Final Problem and his resurrection in The Adventure of the Empty House.
HT: Occasionally in these stories, you have used real characters from history. What prompted you to do this and how did you ensure that your depiction of the people concerned was accurate?
PSH: I have only used historical characters where I feel they are absolutely necessary to maintain authenticity within the confines of the story. As it turns out, some of the figures I have chosen are quite obscure and would not be well known to the majority of readers today. Nevertheless, to stay faithful to history, I have amassed as much information as is currently available on these real-life characters (far more than I had originally intended, or needed, for that matter). Whilst I have added to the depictions here and there, each and every one has involved searches in genealogical archives and other sources.
HT: If you had to choose one television or film Sherlock Holmes as your favourite, who would it be and why?
PSH: If I was allowed to have picked three Holmeses, this would have been a slightly easier task, as I would have quickly stumped for Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett, leaving myself the difficult decision of choosing between Clive Merrison and Peter Cushing. But being limited to one, I feel I would have to elect Jeremy Brett. To my mind, he is the actor who has come closest to the character that Conan Doyle originally envisioned and there has never been a person better suited to portraying Sherlock Holmes. Regrettably, he passed away before he was able to complete the canon, robbing me of the chance to see him play Holmes in my favourite story – The Adventure of the Lion's Mane.
HT: When you were writing, did you picture him in the 'role'?
PSH: On rare occasions, he does crop up in my mind when I'm writing, although I strive to make sure that the Sherlock Holmes I depict is a classic version, more true to Conan Doyle's Holmes than to any actor's interpretation. Doctor Watson, on the other hand, is much harder to pin down. Sometimes he is Edward Hardwicke and his excellent take on the good doctor, and sometimes, as Watson is the narrator of the stories, I at times cringingly become him – but thankfully that is only in my own mind.
HT: Did writing for an established character with a pre-existing audience bring with it any particular pressures for you as a budding author?
PSH: Probably more than I originally imagined, the problem being that there will always be someone more knowledgeable than you on your chosen subject. To avoid the scorn of my Sherlockian peers, I painstakingly researched every detail to make sure that nothing went against the facts and the timeline of the canon. Obviously, trying to follow a world-respected author like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and doing so in your first book is asking for trouble, but I do so humbly and in homage to a fine author. He is as good a mentor as any to strive to emulate.
HT: Can we expect further Sherlock Holmes adventures from you?
PSH: I do fully intend to write a second book, but I think I am going to hold off from starting the process for a short while. I have been writing solidly for the past year and I think I should take some time away from it, in the hope that some good ideas will bubble to the surface. Also, being so preoccupied with the book, I haven't had that much time to read any books myself, and the piles of the unread are growing alarmingly.
HT: Where next then for Sherlock Holmes? Can you give us any teasers for Book 2?
PSH: I haven't got any stories in mind as yet, but I expect that one or two secondary characters from this book will be making a return in the follow up and I think it likely that they will have a big part to play in the proceedings. There is also the fact that Watson hasn't divulged the details of Sherlock Holmes' death, so perhaps that is something that could appear in the next book.
HT: While we're waiting for the second book to materialise, is there anything else that you have been working on?
PSH: Actually, I've just completed an introduction to The Theatrical Sherlock Holmes, a collection of Sherlock Holmes play transcripts that Hidden Tiger have just published to tie in with the release of Requiem for Sherlock Holmes These plays can be difficult to obtain in print and hopefully the edition will not only appeal to collectors, but also casual fans of the great detective who do not as yet realise that their complete editions of Sherlock Holmes books are not as complete as they at first thought. Also, as an enthusiast with a love for of all of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's writings, I am investigating the possibility of compiling a collection of rare Conan Doyle stories which are otherwise difficult to locate. Watch this space.
HT: Finally, how has the process of writing your first book gone compared to how you imagined and are you happy with the result?
PSH: The writing process has gone more smoothly than I could ever have imagined. Most of the stories flowed effortlessly onto the page, with only the smallest amount of time spent staring at a blank computer screen. I have enjoyed every step of the journey and am unbelievably happy with the end result; to see my work in book form has surpassed my original expectations by miles.
My thanks to Paul and Hidden Tiger for granting me permission to use this interview.
Paul's book can be obtained from Lulu: Here and Amazon UK: Here! And Amazon US: Here!!

Friday 9 August 2013

Perilous Pastiche Pitfalls

Those pesky perilous pastiche pitfalls, how can we avoid them, how can we recognise them? I've fallen into a few of these pitfalls to find myself impaled on pointed stakes below. Not literally of course, that would be hideous. Ok, so you want to write a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, yes you do, you know you do. What year and what month do you set it in? The only way to be safe from marauding Sherlockians is to consult accepted chronologies...if your story is to be set in far flung corners of the world or indeed Dorset then it does not work if during the time you choose, that Holmes and Watson are skirting the edges of the Great Grimpen mire in pursuit of Stapleton and his wee doggy. For instance, I read a pastiche many years ago which had Holmes and Watson in situ together in Baker Street in 1880, the year before their paths crossed in the bowels of Barts! Other common pitfalls to avoid; Transport: Hansoms, dog-carts,'s as well to know the difference and how, why and when their usage would occur. A pastiche I read once (and only once....ok then, twice for the entertainment value) had our intrepid pair hailing a hansom and pitching up in Oxford in it, the fare and the tip must have been enormous. In that same book, Holmes and Watson catch a train after 6pm on a spring evening and arrive in York at impossibly quick journey (just the same as it is now). Always a good idea to check where trains may be inclined to travel to rom the main London stations; if you want your characters to go to Brighton for instance, don't send them to Paddington station..they may be a tad upset when they find themselves in the untamed West of England. Look, I know Victorian London is lost in the mists of time, but it was decidedly not full of cobbled streets. In general, London is not a city of city blocks, they really don't exist and the usage of such a term is not really in keeping. An Englishman may say "I am taking the dog for a walk around the block," but it is used as an informal distance.
Ah, the deerstalker I hear you say, or perhaps more properly, 'the ear-flapped travelling cap'. A familiar image to us all. Later uninformed depictions of Holmes that depict him wearing this hat in the city fail to take into account that the fashion-conscious Holmes would never commit such a sartorial faux-pas; the deerstalker is traditionally a rural outdoorsman's cap, not the appropriate headgear for the properly dressed urban gentleman. Indeed, Paget and the other contemporaneous illustrators who portrayed Holmes as wearing a deerstalker always placed him in the proper setting for such attire, travelling cross-country or operating in a rural outdoor setting. Getting the characters right themselves is tricky, believe me I know. On the face of it, you would think it would be easy to replicate the speech patterns, the cadences, the rhythms that ACD came up with, but of course it's not. I have been trying for some time and I will never master it. There are, perhaps, certain things to avoid here; having Watson say "By Jove, Holmes," far too many times will weary the reader as will the good Doctor say, "I say, Holmes," or the archetypal, "Eh, what?" I pitched headlong into the "My dear fellow" man-trap when writing 'The Lyme Regis Horror' and got rightly panned for it. In general I have no objection to seeing stories in American English, I can smile whimsically when I see 'color' but.....but.....but.....'gotten'!! Never!! Don't do it!!!
Does having an all-encompassing knowledge of the canon make for a better pastiche writer? The immediate answer is yes! I always have a copy handy when writing and a Sherlock Holmes encyclopedia or two. But having said that, I am very much the junior collaborator in 'Sherlock Holmes and the Scarborough Affair' that everlasting novel which has been in the making for 18 months. My partner is actually the main writer, the plots is hers, the storyline, the characters etc. Now, as some of you may know, she has a profound dislike of Holmes, has only read two stories from the canon which she did not enjoy. She should be the last person to even attempt a pastiche, but I have to say, it is superb and without a word of a lie, much better than anything I have done. So, perhaps that canon knowledge is not so necessary after all!

So, tricky things pastiches. I have never got it right, have fallen into several of these pitfalls myself, but there was always a handy rope ladder. But I keep trying....

MX Publishing are the leading publisher in the world of Sherlock Holmes pastiches: MX Publishing/Sherlock Holmes

If you want to see how I got it wrong ( or right!), you can find my books here:

Sherlock Holmes and The Lyme Regis Horror is available from all good bookstores worldwide including in the USAAmazon and Barnes and Noble, in the UK Amazon, Waterstones. Fans outside the US and UK can get free delivery fromBook Depository. In ebook format it is in Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Apple iBooks(iPad/iPhone).

Sherlock Holmes and The Lyme Regis Legacy is available from all good bookstores worldwide including in the USA AmazonClassic Specialities and Barnes and Noble,  in the UK Amazon and Waterstones, elsewhere Book Depository offer free worldwide delivery - and in all electronic formats including Amazon KindleNookKobo and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone)

Sherlock Holmes and The Lyme Regis Trialsis available from all good bookstores worldwide including in the USA Amazonand Barnes and Noble, in the UK Amazon, Waterstones . Fans outside the US and UK can get free worldwide delivery from Book Depository  - and in all electronic formats including Amazon Kindle, Kobo and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone)