Short Story Review: The Case of the Abominable Wife by June Thomson

London, 1892.  Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson are at home, in their sitting room, having a discussion on the theme of coincidence, when the detective explains the reasoning behind the subject.  A short news item in that day’s newspaper states that a man Sherlock Holmes crossed paths with a number of years ago was knocked down and killed in the street.  Holmes had only mentioned that particular case in passing to Watson the previous week, but had yet to tell him about.

And so, Holmes proceeds to explain all, in great detail.  It centred on a criminal gang, who targeted victims in a particularly gruesome manner, garrotting, only the case was never closed with a sufficient degree of satisfaction for Sherlock Holmes liking.  The question is, can they close it now?

I must admit that as far as I am aware the only Sherlock Holmes stories that I have read were those written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself.  So I wasn’t quite sure what to expect…

However, I thoroughly enjoyed this short story.  From the footnotes in the story we learn that the case that this story is based on was mentioned in another Sherlock Holmes story, The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual.  To my mind, it was in keeping with the original stories and so was definitely worth a read.  I thought the plot was clever – I did not anticipate the twist in the story – and the dialogue and description was engaging.

This short story was found in Murder Through the Ages: A Bumper Anthology of Historical Mysteries, ed. Maxim Jakubowski.

5 Reviews for…Captivating Cosy Mysteries

I haven’t posted one of these since Halloween, so I thought one was over due.  I love cosy mysteries; they are easy to read so are a perfect reading choice at the end of a long day.  They are also often light-hearted and entertaining…

Below you will find links to a number of cosy mysteries that I have read, enjoyed and can wholeheartedly recommend:

  • If you are after a book that will make you laugh out loud, I would suggest reading the first Hamish Macbeth Murder Mystery Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton. A quick, charming read that is, as I write this, sitting at No.5 of my favourite reads of 2015.
  • If it’s an exotic location you are after, I would have to recommend Devil-Devil by G.W.Kent.  Set in the Solomon Islands in 1960, Devil-Devil is the first book in the Sister Conchita and Sergeant Kella Mysteries. 
  • If it’s 1920’s charm you want, take a look at the first book in the Daisy Dalrymple Mystery series by Carola Dunn. Death at Wentwater Court is an enjoyable read packed full of historical detail…
  • The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side by Agatha Christie, featuring the wonderful Miss Marple, is a cosy murder mystery to get lost in.  An entertaining read that will quickly draw you into it…
  • Finally, a list of cosy mystery recommendations wouldn’t be complete without Precious Ramotswe…Currently I have reviews for the first two books in The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series by Alexander MacCall Smith posted on this blog, The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and Tears of the Giraffe

Book Review: The Winter Garden Mystery by Carola Dunn

The Winter Garden Mystery is the second in the The Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries by Carola Dunn.

Winter has just started to turn to spring and the Honorable Daisy Dalrymple is on her way to Occles Hall in Cheshire for her next article.  The owners of the estate are Lord Reginald and Lady Valeria Parslow, the former being obsessed with the dairy industry and the latter a formidable battle-axe of whom nearly everyone in the county is terrified.  They live there with their two children, Sebastian and Roberta, known as Bobbie.  Daisy went to school with Bobbie and it is through her old school friend that she manages to obtain an invitation to visit and write about the Tudor manor.

But nothing is as it seems – or as Lady Valeria would have people believe – at Occles Hall.  Daisy isn’t long into her stay when the body of the supposed runaway parlour maid, Grace Moss, is accidentally uncovered beneath a flower bed in the Winter Garden.

As secrets are revealed, it quickly becomes clear the net of suspicion must be cast far and wide to ensure that the person responsible for killing Grace doesn’t get away with murder.  And when Scotland Yard are called in, no one, not even Lady Valeria, is above suspicion.

The Winter Garden Mystery is an entertaining cosy mystery, packed full of charm and engaging characters.  The dialogue is witty, the storyline captivating and the language mesmerising.

This second book in the series is an enjoyable easy read, one that will have you wondering just who did kill Grace Moss?

Recommended for fans of cosy mysteries or for those who want a light and entertaining choice for a holiday read.

Book Review: Priestess of the White by Trudi Canavan

Priestess of the White is the first book in the Age of the Five fantasy series by Trudi Canavan.

Auraya, a girl from Hania, very quickly rises up the ranks of priestesses.  Within ten years she becomes one of the Gods’ Chosen, that is, one of the Gods chosen representatives, of which there are five, the same number as the Circlian Gods.  The Gods’ Chosen not only serve as religious leaders; they also have a very prominent political role to fulfil.  Now, as Auraya of the White, she lives in the White Tower in Jarime and is granted many gifts and magical powers.

One of her first tasks is that of negotiating an alliance with a distant land, as it has been revealed to the Chosen that the Gods wish for the people of Ithania to unite.  But as Auraya goes about her work, it is clear that she doesn’t see the world and the people in it as the other of the Gods’ Chosen do, or even some of the common folk.  Those who do not follow their path and their ways are often viewed with distrust and suspicion.  That isn’t Auraya’s way.

Not only does Auraya have work to do, but she must also learn how to use some of these newly bestowed gifts.  However, she doesn’t have long to get used to the change she has undergone.  Rumours abound that black-robed sorcerers are terrorising land to the south.  They shouldn’t be a match for the Gods’ Chosen though; their gods are the only real ones in existence after the Circlian deities defeated the others.  However, it’s not as easy and convincing as it should have been.  These black-robed sorcerers are the heralds of revelation: war and a clash of beliefs is on the way.  How will the newest of the Gods’ Chosen cope?

And as these black-robed sorcerers, or Pentadrians as they are called, create more and more unrest, it is up to the Gods’ Chosen to form and forge as many alliances as they possibly can.  But time is running out, and war is coming…

I am a big fan of Trudi Canavan’s work.  I think the worlds she creates are so complex and detailed that is it impossible not to get drawn into the colourful tales of magic and intrigue that she writes.

The vast array of characters, each with their own story and role to fulfil, make this a fascinating book.  The story lines deftly weave in and out of each other, to bring to life an engaging, captivating read.  We hear voices from all sides and perspectives, from different cultures and different people.  The author provides us with detail and in-depth background information about the places and people she has created, and throughout the book these remain consistent.

Priestess of the White is an epic tale of magic, sorcery, religion, faith, love, duty, honour and friendship.

I highly recommend this book to all fans of magic and fantasy fiction.  The Age of the Five series continues with Book 2, Last of the Wilds, which I am looking forward to reading.