Short Story Review: The Five Orange Pips by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Five Orange Pips is the fifth short story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Summary (from Goodreads)

A tale of mystery, scandal and murder that may have been committed by the Ku Klux Klan in London. Who else but Sherlock Holmes can solve these series of deaths?

Favourite Quote

“There is nothing more to be said or to be done tonight, so hand me over my violin and let us try to forget for half an hour the miserable weather and the still more miserable ways of our fellowmen.”

Review

I’ve been looking back over my reviews of the short stories from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes so far, and I believe that I am rating them more harshly than I tend to usually rate what I read.  I wonder if that is because I have greater expectations of Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes, and what I do enjoy I really love, creating a starker contrast?  Just a thought…

This is another middle-of-the-road story from the collection.  The mystery was interesting and complex, but the ending was a little flat as there is no satisfactory conclusion to the story.  But perhaps that makes this instalment appear closer to real life which is hardly ever so neatly wrapped and tidied come the end.  It might also serve as a reminder that although Sherlock Holmes is a genius, he is still only human.

Also, I must say that I thought it was rather strange of Sherlock to explain to Mr Openshaw (the man that came to Baker Street with the case) just how much mortal danger he was in and then simply allow him to walk off into the night, alone and unprotected.

Rating

3.5 / 5

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Short Story Review: The Boscome Valley Mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Boscombe Valley Mystery is the fourth short story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Lestrade summons Holmes to a community in Herefordshire, where a local land owner has been murdered outdoors. The deceased’s estranged son is strongly implicated. Holmes quickly determines that a mysterious third man may be responsible for the crime, unraveling a thread involving a secret criminal past, thwarted love, and blackmail.

Favourite Quote

There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.

Review

I enjoyed this Sherlock Holmes mystery more than the last one.  Again, I worked out the identity of the real criminal though not the reason behind it.

What I really liked about this story was the search and analysis of the crime scene by Sherlock Holmes.

In these last few short stories we have begun to see the softer, more compassionate side to Sherlock Holmes, when often he is presented as being cold, aloof and overly analytical.  And this reminds me of another quote that stood out:

“God help us!” said Holmes after a long silence.  “Why does fate play such tricks with poor, helpless worms? I never hear of such a case of this that I do not think of Baxter’s words, and say, “There, but for the grace of God, goes Sherlock Holmes.”

I’m looking forward to reading the next mystery in the series, The Five Orange Pips.

Rating

3.5 / 5

 

Short Story Review: A Case of Identity by Arthur Conan Doyle

A Case of Identity is the third short story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Miss Mary Sutherland, angry and beside herself with feelings of loss, asks Sherlock Holmes to solve the sudden, mysterious disappearance of a shy and attentive man she has grown to love upon the very day they were to be married.

Favourite Quote

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.”

Review

Great storytelling, even if this story was a little predictable – or should I say easier to solve, than some of the other Sherlock Holmes mysteries?  The scheme involved wasn’t very nice at all and I found myself feeling sorry for Mary Sutherland one moment and wondering how she could have fallen for it the next.  So, a bit of a mixed bag, this one.

One of the high points of the story though was the conversation between Holmes and Watson where Sherlock, in the role of “master consulting detective” informs Watson his “pupil”, that he is getting better at the craft of the consulting detective.  He congratulates him with, “‘Pon my word, Watson, you are coming along wonderfully.  You have done very well indeed”, before he goes on to say, even if he failed to notice everything that was important about the case.  Smashing stuff!

Also, on a side note, I do enjoy coming across some of the more unusual names of the period.  In the last story, The Red-headed League, there was a “Jabez”.  In A Case of Identity, there is a “Hosmer”.

Rating

I’ve been readin The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle via Wattpad

Short Story Review: Norfolk Twilight by M.L. Eaton

Summary (from Goodreads)

A short, but magical, haunting tale of country ways, adventure, loss and love.Two friends are sitting, amicably silent, in the dusk of a winter’s day, when the atmosphere around them changes. Soon a story of love, loss and adventure unfolds, with unexpected consequences for them both.

Favourite Quote

Dusk crept in early from beneath the lowering brow of a winter sky.

Review

An enjoyable read that cleverly weaves tales of the past and the present together.  I liked how the stories seamlessly flowed from one to the other.

This is not a ghost story; there are no tense spooky passages that will make you jump.  However, it is a story of ghosts, where memories of what has gone before are remembered by the fabric of the building in which they were made.

The story is rich in evocative description that gently pulls you into the story. My favourite quote (see above) is the opening line of the tale, and illustrates this perfectly.

Norfolk Twilight is an intelligent, beautifully written short story. I would happily read more from this author.

Rating

I found Norfolk Twilight by M. L. Eaton available for Free on Smashwords

Short Story Review: The Shrine by Ben Kane

The Shrine is the short story prequel to Eagles at War, the first book in the Eagles of Rome trilogy by Ben Kane.

Summary

The story is set in Mogontiacum, Gallia Belgica in 6BC, and Lucius Cominius Tullus, a Roman soldier, has just accepted a promotion.  The new post involves a transfer, moving from the Twenty-First legion to become a centurion in the Eighteenth, stationed in Vetera.  En route, he pauses on the way, to watch the famous footrace in Mogontiacum after which he decides to visit the local shrine.  The shrine in question is the temple to Magna Mater (the Great Mother) and Isis.

But his stay there is not to be a quiet one.  Neither will it be easy to forget…

Favourite Quote

“Piss off,” hissed Tullus.  He had no woman.  The army was work enough.

Review

I really enjoyed this short story.  It served as a great introduction to the character of Tullus and to the location: the German frontier. This period in Roman’s history fascinates me, and so I found the not-too-heavy, yet still rich detail of the setting a rewarding read.  One of my interests is in ancient religion so the part of the story set in the temple held me captivated.

I especially enjoyed reading the “note from the author” at the end of the story, as it explained how and why the story came about.

I’ve already gone out and bought a copy of Eagles at War, and am looking forward to begin reading it.  Tullus sounds like an interesting character and I want to see how his story unfolds, as I am aware of the events that happen round this time in this part of the empire.

If you’ve yet to read any of Ben Kane’s books, why not pop over to Wattpad and give this short story a read for free? (Here’s the link if you’re interested.)

Rating

 

Short Story Review: The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen

Summary

A widowed king remarries, but his new queen turns out to be a witch who doesn’t like her twelve step-children. So she schemes to get rid of them by casting a spell to turn them into swans. And she succeeds in the case of the eleven princes, but her efforts are hampered when it comes to the princess Elisa.

However, Elisa doesn’t forget her brothers.  In fact, she takes it upon herself to save them, no matter the personal cost to herself, which turns out to be quite high…

Favourite Quote

You have the powers to set your brothers free, but have you the courage and determination?

Review

I came across this Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale while researching some of the less well-known fairy tales that he had written.  Everyone’s heard of The Little Mermaid and The Snow Queen, but I was looking for something a little different. The purpose: to write a short fairy tale re-telling about an evil queen / step-mother character from a fairy tale for a call for submissions I had seen.  To boost my chances of acceptance, I thought it best to try and find one of the less popular stories. (On a side note, the story was accepted and will be released as part of an anthology later this year – yay!)

One thing that really struck me as I read The Wild Swans was the strong religious aspect to it.  Modern retellings tend to ignore religion / religious themes in these stories as they aren’t necessarily what a modern audience wants to read.  This most of all, I found hardest to read as in places it was laid on fairly thick.  There was a lot of praying, piety and self-sacrifice going on – heavy stuff for a children’s story.  And, I think reading the original made me aware of how old the story is (it was first published in 1838), and how it’s a product of its time.

Apart from that, the story-telling and imagination of the author really shone through, allowing me to enjoy the rest of the fairy tale.  Elisa is a strong character, a young woman with a determined attitude, who puts the well-being of her brothers above her own.  And of course, all the usual fairy tale elements are present too – a prince, the fairy godmother and the triumph over evil.

I’m pleased I found this, pleased that I read, but reminded of the fact there is a reason why many fairy tales are being retold for a modern audience.

Rating

I downloaded a copy of Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales Volume 2, containing The Wild Swans, for free from Project Gutenberg

Short Story Review: Death in the Kitchen by Milward Kennedy

great-crime-stories-front-cover

Summary:

Rupert Morrison is fed up with being blackmailed by George Manning so sets out to put a stop to it once and for all.  The only problem is, when consumed with plotting the perfect murder, in the hope you might get away with it, there is always one thing that has been overlooked…

Favourite Quote:

He glanced round the little kitchen, deliberately looking at the figure which lay huddled on the floor; huddled but yet in an attitude which Morrison hoped was as natural as its unnatural circumstances would permit.  For the head was inside the oven of the rusty-looking gas-stove.

Review:

This is the first work by Milward Kennedy that I have read, and I really enjoyed it.  At only four pages long, this short story is a very short story.  However, it does manage to pack a lot into it and the twist at the end – which I did not see coming at all – was fantastic.

I would recommend this story to those who enjoy their crime stories set during the first half of the twentieth century, as well as to those who are learning how to write a convincing, concise crime story.

Rating:

three-stars

I found Death in the Kitchen by Milward Kennedy in Great Crime Stories by Chancellor Press.