As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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‘To a Country House Darkly and Other New Adventures’ by N.M. Scott
Published by The Book Guild, 28 February 2017. ISBN:
To a Country House Darkly is a collection of short stories that are based on the
characters introduced in Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories and, like the
original stories, they are narrated by Dr Watson. The stories are set towards
the end of the Victorian era and range from the dark and sinister and the
violent and melodramatic to the gentler and more humorous. My personal
preference is for the last category, especially The Church Conundrum, in which
Holmes aides a bemused clergyman who is being haunted by a singing nun.
All of the stories are clearly well
researched, the period details are accurate and they introduce, as integral
factors in the plots, interests and discoveries that were common at that time.
Several of the tales develop the
lives of Conan Doyle’s subsidiary characters, such as Holmes’ brother, Mycroft,
whose ‘love of port cigars and fine wines, his epicurean tastes, had finally
got the better of him. He reminded me at best of a giant species of inflatable
slug, grossly overweight and confined to a reinforced wheelchair for much of
the time.’ Wiggins, the leaders of the Baker Street Irregulars, fares
better in the final short story in this collection. He was adopted by a
clergyman and his wife and is now a cadet officer at Sandhurst, and is the
image of the middle-class, conventional, young Victorian.
These are the first pastiches of
Sherlock Holmes that I have read, although I am familiar with the original,
Conan Doyle short stories. I found the stories well-crafted and interesting and
full of period detail. However I did not find the depiction of Holmes
convincing. These stories portrayed a mellower, more sociable Holmes, willing
to engage with gossipy women on trains and with little of the acid wit, impish
humour, impatience and individuality of Conan Doyle’s Holmes. This results in
the relationship with Watson being far calmer, considerate and more harmonious
than that which Conan Doyle portrayed.
To a Country House Darkly is a collection of well-crafted and pleasant short
stories set in the late 19th Century, and is an enjoyable read.
Reviewer: by Carol Westron
Carol Westronis a successful short
story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly
Dames.Her crime novels are set both in
contemporary and Victorian times.The
Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was
published July 2013. Her latest book The Fragility
of Poppies was published 10 June 2016.