epiphany_maria (epiphany_maria) wrote,
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Book Reviews: The Left Hand of God + The Game is Afoot + Blackout

The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman

Thomas Cale grew up in Sanctuary, one of many boys trained for war by the Redeemers. Then one day he and his friends found out about secret activities going on in Sanctuary and as a result had to flee for their lives. But the world outside Sanctuary is just as dark and cruel as what they have left behind.

This is an intriguing fantasy novel. The world it is set in is both strange and yet oddly familiar. And the ultimate Purpose of the Redeemers is not yet clear. This book manages to be gripping, wildly entertaining and epic.

~
The Game is Afoot: Parodies, pastiches and ponderings of Sherlock Holmes edited by Marvin Kaye

This is a very good collection of essays, parodies and short stories based on the great detective that dates from the 1900’s to 1994. The editor is somewhat pompous and dismisses the Jeremy Brett TV series with a footnote, lord knows what he’s make of the Downey Jnr and the BBC modern day versions.

The Adventure of the Two Collaborators
A light hearted spoof written by James M. Barrie.

The Umbrosa Burglary
Another light hearted spoof.

The Sign of the “400”
Yet another frothy spoof.

The Adventure of the Circular Room
Holmes solves an improbable mystery. This is okay.

The Adventure of the Marked Man
Holmes helps a man marked for death in this okay tale.

The Adventure of the Unique Hamlet
Holmes solves a book theft, this was good.

But Our Hero Was Not Dead
During WWII a German agent parachutes into Sussex and to his cost stumbles across a cottage inhabited by two elderly men. This was good.

In the Island of Uffa
An essay that ponders an unchronicled Holmes adventure, it’s okay.

The Really Final Solution
A short but hilarious tale in which after dispatching yet another criminal, Holmes seeks a new opponent and his eye lands on a most unexpected candidate. This is very good.

The Succoured Beauty
A short amusing parody.

The Stolen Cigar Case
This is a good blackly comic parody/brutal dissection of Sherlock Holmes which shows up all his character deficiencies. Watson’s doormat behaviour is mocked as well. After reading this you will wonder why Watson was ever friends with Holmes.

The Murder of Conan Doyle
This is an okay parody of ‘The Empty House’.

The Adventure of the Conk-Singleton Papers
Another okay parody.

Journal of a Ghurkha Physician
An excerpt from a diary of man who unwittingly met Holmes during his Great Hiatus. Hilariously Holmes can’t understand why this man doesn’t regard him with the awe, reverence and adoration Watson does. This is good.

The Struldbrugg Reaction
Holmes and Watson in the 1960’s encounter a noir PI. It’s better than it sounds.

The Problem of the Purple Maculas
Holmes investigates a bizarre murder case, this was good.

Sussex Interview
A scholar seeks out a retired Holmes for an interview. This is okay.

From the Diary of Sherlock Holmes
This is okay.

Mrs Hudson Speaks
Mrs Hudson gives a lecture to Holmes fans and clears up a few things. This is good.

The Adventure of the Bogle-Wolf
A fun tale of Holmes and Watson just hanging out.

The Theft of the Persian Slipper
A thief is hired to burgle a Holmes exhibit. But what are his paymasters really after? It’s a shame the twist is spoiled by a ham fisted giveaway early on. But still this is okay.

The Dynamics of an Asteroid
What if Moriarty survived his plunge down the Falls? This is good.

Daydream
Written by Basil Rathbone. A man has a dream like encounter with Sherlock Holmes.

Best Lines:
“Cocaine! Opium! Clothes!”

“You, who have for years rapturously accepted my confidences, passionately admired my inductions and interences, placed yourself at my beck and call, become my slave, grovelled at my feet...you, who have sacrificed anything and anybody to me – you, I make my confidant!”


~
Blackout by Connie Willis

The third in Connie Willis’ series about time travelling historians follows on from ‘Doomsday Book’ and ‘To Say Nothing of the Dog’. This is a wonderful series, ‘Doomsday Book’ was an excellent tale of the Black Death set in 1348 and ‘To Say Nothing of the Dog’ was a hilarious tale of manners set in 1888. ‘Blackout’ is about three historians - Michael, Merope and Polly - who travel back to observe to one of Britain’s darkest hours, World War II.

Michael faces of the Dunkirk, Merope deals with bratty evacuees and Polly endures the Blitz. But as time passes each become aware something is wrong. Their way home to Oxford of 2060 has not opened and they begin to suspect the impossible, that they have changed the past.

This is an excellent novel. It’s a wonderful evocation of WWII and a delightful sci fi mystery. What is going on? Have they changed the past? Who are the mysterious other time travellers? I look forward to the tale continuing in ‘All Clear’.
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