Short Story Review: The Red-Headed League by Arthur Conan Doyle

Summary:

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson receive a visitor, Jabez Wilson, a man with a shock of red hair.  He explains that his assistant encouraged him to respond to advert in the paper offering very well-paid work to red-headed male applicants.  He wasn’t sure, thinking it was too good to be true, but acquiesced.  The following morning, he followed the directions from the advert and joined a long line of red-heads applying for the job.  However, it is only a very specific shade of red hair they are looking for, and Wilson is the only one offered the position.

When Wilson learns of the very simple work he must undertake in order to earn his high wage, he is eager to begin.  But after only four weeks the office mysteriously closes, and no-one has heard of the Red-Headed League, nor the man Wilson was interviewed / managed by.  So, he gets Sherlock Holmes on the case…

Favourite quote:

“It is quite a three pipe problem, and I beg that you won’t speak to me for fifty minutes.”

Review:

The second short story in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle that I have been reading on Wattpad, is The Red-Headed League.  This is a very clever short story, but I enjoyed it less than A Scandal in Bohemia.

The misdirection is clever, the plot extremely well thought out and it is always great to see how Sherlock Holmes thinks and interprets the clues he has been given.  The idea of The Red-Headed League makes this an unusual story and for that reason, memorable, for it is so strange.  I think that it is that strangeness though, which is the reason why I liked this less than A Scandal in Bohemia.

Next up in the series is A Case of Identity, the review for which I hope to post within the next couple of weeks…

Rating:

three-stars

Short Story Review: A Scandal in Bohemia by Arthur Conan Doyle

Summary:

While Dr Watson is visiting his friend, Sherlock Holmes, the latter receives a visitor, one who gives a false name.  True to form, Holmes quickly determines his true identity: the heir to the Kingdom of Bohemia, who is soon to be married to a princess from a strict family.  Only a past lover is in possession of a some letters and a photograph of them together, which could be used for blackmail and ultimately ruin his chances of marrying the princess.

The woman in question is Irene Adler…

Favourite quote:

To Sherlock Holmes, she is always the woman.  I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name.  In his eyes, she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex.

Review:

I have been working my way through The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle on Wattpad, the first instalment of which is A Scandal in Bohemia.  It’s been too long since I have read a Sherlock Holmes story, and this, the first of 56 short stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle staring the “consulting detective”, was a great way to reconnect with them.

Of course, I loved it.  What I did find interesting was that Arthur Conan Doyle decided to begin the run of short stories by depicting that it is possible to outsmart Sherlock Holmes.  And Irene Adler is such an iconic character, possibly rivalling Sherlock in popularity.  All-in-all, a short, entertaining read and an enjoyable way to pass an evening.

Next up in the series is The Red-Headed League, the review for which I will probably post next week…

Rating:

four-stars

Sammi Loves Books – Year in Review 2016

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2016 has been a great year for books.  The over-riding theme for the year was “read, review and recycle,” (by recycle, I mean donating to charity or giving away to friends and family).  The reason for this: I have finally realised I have an addiction to books; when you have bookshelves in front of bookshelves and piles of books on each step of the stairs, you know you have a problem…That’s not to say that every book I read and review was removed from the house, only the books I couldn’t imagine reading again.  It’s a start at least, and something I will carry with me into 2017.

I’m once again surprised that I only read and reviewed 56 stories / books this year, exactly the same as last year, which I am more than a little disappointed with.  Next year I am determined to have written at least 57 reviews.  However, my Goodreads reading challenge only reckons I’ve read 8, but then my goal was 72.  One of my New Year’s resolutions is to get to grips with updating Goodreads on a regularly basis, something I have failed to do since I signed up there years ago…

A Few Highlights

  • Getting a signed paperback copy of Vastian Lore by S.C. Gregory from the author via a giveaway on her blog.
  • Receiving a paperback copy of The Devil’s Chalice by D.K. Wilson from the publisher.

Top Ten Favourite Reads of 2016

This is how my top ten list stands at the end of the year:

  1. The Ambassadors’ Mission (Trudi Canavan)
  2. One Corpse Too Many (Ellis Peters)
  3. The Devil’s Chalice (D.K. Wilson)
  4. Venus in Copper (Lindsey Davis)
  5. The Raven’s Head (Karen Maitland)
  6. A Clash of Kings (George R. R. Martin)
  7. Just Breathe (Sarah Doughty)
  8. Glass Houses (Rachel Caine)
  9. The Woman in Black (Susan Hill)
  10. Death of a Cad (M.C. Beaton)

Reading Challenges

Indie Only Month 2016:

My favourites were “Just Breathe” and “Vastian Lore” – I adored them both.

Historical Fiction Month 2016:

My favourites were “The Devil’s Chalice” and “Venus in Copper”, closely followed by “The Raven’s Head” and “Dissolution”.

Festive Reads Fortnight 2016:

So that is my year in books summarised.  I hope you all had a great 2016, and wishing you a 2017 filled with good books!

Short Story Review: Who Stole the Fish? By Peter Tremayne

murder-through-the-ages-front-coverWho Stole the Fish? is a Sister Fidelma Mystery by Peter Tremayne.

It is 664 AD, Ireland.  The Abbey of Durrow has an important visitor, an emissary from Rome.  Naturally, at the evening meal, an extravagant dish is to be served to their guest: a great salmon.  Only during the early part of the meal, Sister Fidelma’s presence is required in the kitchen by Abbot Laisran.  The fish has gone missing, along with the man who has been cooking it.  And the abbot wants the mystery cleared up before the emissary hears anything about it.

But where is the fist?  And where is the cook?

Although I have a number of the Sister Fidelma Mysteries sitting on my bookshelves, I have yet to get around to reading one.  So this short story is my first introduction to the sleuthing nun, and I must say, I liked her.  She is sensible, logical and observant – nothing escapes her notice.  I am now determined to read a full-length novel staring Sister Fidelma in the new year.

A great read!

I found this short story in, Murder Through the Ages: A Bumper Anthology of Historical Mysteries, edited by Maxim Jakubowski.

Short Story Review: A Dangerous Nativity by Caroline Warfield

When the Duke of Murnane dies, the responsibility of running the estate falls on his widow’s brother, William, Earl of Chadbourn.  But when he arrives, he finds a rich, vast estate in a state of disrepair.  As he goes about the business of taking stock, he stumbles across a small holding and cottage on the edge of the estate and is instantly taken with the young woman he finds there.  She is strong, intelligent and knows about farming.  But what is her story?  And why does the family have nothing to do with the big house?

I thoroughly enjoyed this Christmas short story set during the Regency.  The love tale itself is charming, the idea of the boys nativity play hilarious, and the cast on the whole, easy to warm to.  I would certainly enjoy reading more of these characters in the future.to see what becomes of them all, and I would happily re-read this story again…

I downloaded A Dangerous Nativity for free from Smashwords.

Winter Magic – an anthology update

You might remember a few months ago I was looking to put together an anthology of short fiction and poetry on the theme of “Winter Magic”.  At the beginning of December, the anthology was released on Wattpad.

final-cover

To learn more about the anthology, what it’s about and what talented authors have their amazing work featured in it, click the cover above.

You can read the anthology for Free, by clicking here.

Not on Wattpad but still want to read it?  Click here.

Book Review: Jingle Spells edited by Heather Marie Adkins (part 1)

Up first for 2016’s Festive Reads Fortnight is Jingle Spells, a multi-author anthology from CyberWitch Press, which you can download for FREE from Smashwords.  I usually review the short stories in an anthology individually, but this time I am going to divide the review into two parts.

Now, before we begin, a little disclaimer: this post is equal parts shameless plugging and book review.  Why?  Because I have a short story in it.  Needless to say, I’m not going to review my own contribution, but I will add a short description of what it’s about, just in case anyone is interested.

So, let’s begin…

Jingle Spells is the first of the CyberWitch Press Short Fiction Anthologies, and is edited by Heather Marie Adkins, who runs the small press.  She also designed the pretty cover.

Solstice Flames by J. Laslie

Solstice Flames tells the story of Anya Sutherland, an ordinary girl from Meade Harbour, Massachusetts, awaiting the coming of the school’s Holiday Dance, where rumour has it, Heath Lockhart was going to ask her to go with him.  Anya couldn’t be more excited or more nervous, but in the run-up to the dance, something she can’t explain begins to happen to her…

This was quite an individual tale, where the modern world maintains out-dated laws.  I really felt for Anya, and I wasn’t sure how the story was going to end, which kept me guessing until the very last lines.  A great read.

A Midwinter Manifestation by Sammi Cox

It is Midwinter Eve, and Maeve Featherstone, a modern-day sorceress, is having a quiet night in and hoping to plan her Winter Solstice celebrations.  However, her presence is urgently required at Evie Whitworth’s house. Evie has repeatedly been told to stop dabbling in magic, but she never listens.  The question is, what has Evie done this time?  Will the arrival of an unexpected guest ruin the festive period for Evie and the entire village of Wood End? Not if Maeve can help it…

This is the first short story to feature the Secret Sorceress, Maeve Featherstone, but look out for more from her in the future…I have a few ideas planned, and some all ready finished…

The Witch’s Shoes by Sidonia Rose

Arwen goes out one evening with her cousin to a club, in the run-up to the winter solstice.  In the club she meets Brogan, next to whom she wakes the following the morning, only to find that the room is full of falling feathers.  It’s clear that magic is afoot, but Arwen has no idea who Brogan is and what his presence means for her.

This story is told from both the viewpoints of Arwen and Brogan, which added a nice dose of humour to the story as we saw it unfold from their individual perspectives.  An interesting read.

Part 2 will be posted soon…