A Burial at Sea

There is something strangely comforting and old-fashioned about Charles Finch’s A BURIAL AT SEA, the fifth in his series featuring English gentleman and Parliament member Charles Lenox. Sure, the novel is set in 1873, and the Victorian-era trappings lend greatly to the effect, but it’s something about Finch’s style that make you think you’re reading a book published 50 years ago. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

Finch’s pacing is measured, his dialogue formalized, his descriptions somewhat lengthy but not purple, it is a very mannered prose. But it’s very readable. And his style actually works to immerse the reader into the time frame and the story.

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4 Capital Clues That Prove Sherlock Holmes Is Alive and Well

Fueled by the continuing adventures of the Great Detective both on the big screen and the small screen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation is busier in books than ever, including these recent reads. We’ll let their respective publishers take it from here … —Rod Lott

SHERLOCK HOLMES: REVENANT by William Meikle — A strange sickness affecting the members of the House of Lords starts a new adventure for Holmes and Watson, one that will see them on the run, accused of murder and pursued by both the police and a deadly gang of assassins. The case takes them up and down the country, from Scotland to the Houses of Parliament and leads them down arcane paths, following their relentless foe in pursuit of the lost secret of immortality. Their adversary seems hell-bent, not only on their destruction but on an act of terrorism that will shake London to its foundations.

THE RETURN OF MORIARTY: SHERLOCK HOLMES’ NEMESIS LIVES AGAIN by John Gardner — What really happened in Switzerland between Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes in 1891? And why is Holmes, now in London at 221B Baker Street, curiously uncooperative with Scotland Yard’s inquiries? Furthermore, why has Moriarty planned a grand meeting with the international crime syndicate? These are the questions that make up the larger mystery of the sinister Professor Moriarty’s return.

THE HOUSE OF SILK by Anthony Horowitz — London, 1890. 221B Baker St. A fine art dealer named Edmund Carstairs visits Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson to beg for their help. He is being menaced by a strange man in a flat cap — a wanted criminal who seems to have followed him all the way from America. In the days that follow, his home is robbed, his family is threatened. And then the first murder takes place. Almost unwillingly, Holmes and Watson find themselves being drawn ever deeper into an international conspiracy connected to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston, the gaslit streets of London, opium dens and much, much more.

A STUDY IN SHERLOCK: STORIES INSPIRED BY THE HOLMES CANON edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger — Neil Gaiman. Laura Lippman. Lee Child. These are just three of 18 superstar authors who provide fascinating, thrilling and utterly original perspectives on Sherlock Holmes in this one-of-a-kind anthology. These modern masters place the sleuth in suspenseful new situations, create characters who solve Holmesian mysteries, contemplate Holmes in his later years, fill gaps in the Sherlock Holmes Canon, and reveal their own personal obsessions with the Great Detective.

Buy them at Amazon.

Come Easy — Go Easy / In a Vain Shadow

COME EASY — GO EASY / IN A VAIN SHADOW represents a first for me in reviewing Stark House Books releases, in that I’m actually quite familiar with the author and his output. I’ve even covered a few works by James Hadley Chase on this very site.

Chase was actually a pseudonym for British author René Lodge Brabazon Raymond. In the opening introduction to this collection, Rick Ollerman provides a history of sorts to Chase, nothing how the author was good friends with another noted author who served as his editor: Graham Greene. What should be pointed out — and Ollerman makes no bones about it — is that Chase was accused of borrowing very liberally from other authors’ works. In that aspect, I find it very interesting that Stark House has reprinted Chase.

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If You Like The Terminator … Here Are Over 200 Movies, TV Shows, and Other Oddities That You Will Love

If you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain, Austin-based critic Scott Von Dolviak can’t help you. But if you like the film THE TERMINATOR, boy, oh boy, are you in luck! The HICK FLICKS writer’s latest entertainment title just happens to be IF YOU LIKE THE TERMINATOR … HERE ARE OVER 200 MOVIES, TV SHOWS, AND OTHER ODDITIES THAT YOU WILL LOVE.

Such an exercise could be tiresome, like a lazy list of his personal favorite science-fiction films and series. Luckily, it’s not. The tidy paperback is structured with thought and care behind it, reading not like a top-of-the-toilet-tank time-passer, but a collection of thorough and incisive essays on several subjects.

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Curse the Names

Robert Arellano’s latest thriller, CURSE THE NAMES, deals with the lingering threat of nuclear waste buried underground. It is frustratingly uneven, but compelling reading almost in spite of itself.
James Oberhelm works as the in-house reporter for the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. His job is to write mostly puff-pieces for the Lab’s monthly publication — stories about the hobbies that fill the days of retired lab employees — as well as translating laboratory press releases into non-threatening, everyday language. His marriage has settled into a dull routine, so when a young female blood technician at his doctor’s office makes what sounds like an invitation to “hook up” over the July 4 holiday, Oberhelm is intrigued.

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The Strange Death of Father Candy

THE STRANGE DEATH OF FATHER CANDY is my first Les Roberts novel, and fans of his should note that this is a standalone book and not part of either his ongoing Saxon series or his Milan Jacovich series.

Set in Youngstown, Ohio, Father Candy is actually Father Richard Candiotti, who we discover — on the very first page, mind you — has committed suicide. His brother, Dominick Candiotti, sits in the church pew and wonders why his favorite sibling would have done such a thing: a sin against God, not to mention very unlike his character.

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The Trinity Game

In Sean Chercover’s THE TRINITY GAME, Daniel Byrne is a priest who works a very special job for the Vatican: investigating supposed miracles, all of which he has debunked thus far. At the novel’s start, he’s in the process of one such job, in which a young girl was taking nails to her hands in her room — not true stigmata, as the people of the area believe.

This leads into his latest case, although Daniel’s superiors are not sure he is the man for the job … because the miracle in question involves Daniel’s estranged uncle, Rev. Tim Trinity, one of those sleazy evangelists who makes his money bilking rubes.

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Drawing Power: A Compendium of Cartoon Advertising

I must have first noticed advertising disguised as comics in the comics: specifically, when various Marvel superheroes helped procure and/or save moist and delicious Hostess snack cakes, all in a single page. Those ads aren’t included in the Fantagraphics collection DRAWING POWER: A COMPENDIUM OF CARTOON ADVERTISING, because authors/editors Rick Marschall and Warren Bernard demonstrate that the concept of using cartoons to shill to consumers goes further back than that — all the way to the 1870s, in fact.

Logically, the oversized tome is focused on the art, with a brief, but thorough history of the Madison Avenue tool upfront. With that business out of the way, the rest is a treasure trove of examples.

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The Demands

A quick note of clarification: THE DEMANDS is the U.S. title for British crime-fiction author Mark Billingham’s GOOD AS DEAD. So if you are among the author’s fans who order his novels from international vendors, and you’ve already read GOOD AS DEAD, you’ve already read THE DEMANDS. If not, you should immediately get your hands on this Mulholland Books edition, as it is one of the strongest titles in Billingham’s excellent Tom Thorne series.
Detective Helen Weeks started her weekday as she always does: with a quick stop at a nearby convenience store for gum, chocolate, a bottle of water and a newspaper to read on her commute. She exchanges a few greetings and pleasantries with Mr. Akhtar, the store owner. Then things go terribly wrong.

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Mickey Spillane on Screen: A Complete Study of the Television and Film Adaptations

Having recently splurged for the Criterion Collection disc of Robert Aldrich’s KISS ME DEADLY, I’ve been in the mood to get Hammered. Max Allan Collins and James L. Traylor’s MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN: A COMPLETE STUDY OF THE TELEVISION AND FILM ADAPTATIONS arrived just in time to be my guide.

Note that nowhere in the title do the names “Mike” and “Hammer” appear. While Spillane’s tough-as-nails detective composed the bulk of his works adapted to screens big and small, a few non-Hammers exist, from RING OF FEAR (which Spillane starred in as himself and did an uncredited rewrite) to a 007-style spy thriller called THE DELTA FACTOR.

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