The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part XIII: 2019 Annual (1881-1890) edited by David Marcum

The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories Part XIII: 2019 Annual (1881-1890  edited by David Marcum, MX Publishing 2019 trade paper short story anthology

Anyone familiar with my reading habits, though not always reflected on this blog, knows I’m a fan and reader of both the Sherlock Holmes Canon (that is, the original novels and stories), and the many pastiches written about the Arthur Conan Doyle characters over the years. Over the years I’ve read a great many pastiches set in a wide variety of times and places with varying success in presenting the original beloved characters to readers.

The strict guideline for the stories in the MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories series is thus: The stories must be absolutely traditional. They have to be set in the correct period (1850-early 1900s), of equivalent Cannonical length and with no aspects of parody, anachronisms or supernatural encounters.

You may think “My goodness, there are thirteen of these anthologies???” Well, yes, and more. As you see on the cover, this is the first third of a set totaling 66 stories, parts 13-15. As of this writing, there are so far over thirty parts! If you’re a Holmes reader, you won’t want to miss these.

As in all anthologies, some stories are better, some weaker, but all are very readable and enjoyable.

Part XIII Contents:

  • Editor’s Introduction: “The Great Holmes Tapestry” by David Marcum
  • “The Folly of Age” by Derrick Belanger
  • “The Fashionably-Dressed Girl” by Mark Mower
  • “The Odour of Neroli” by Brenda Seabrook
  • “The Coffee House Girl” by David Marcum
  • “The Mystery of the Green Room” by Robert Stapleton
  • “The Case of the Enthusiastic Amateur” by S.F. Bennett
  • “The Adventure of the Missing Cousin” by Edwin A. Enstrom
  • “The Roses of Highclough House” by M.J.H. Simmonds
  • “The Shackled Man” by Andrew Bryant
  • “The Yellow Star of Cairo” by Tim Gambrell
  • “The Adventure of the Winterhall Monster” by Tracy J. Revels
  • “The Grosvenor Square Furniture Van” by Hugh Ashton
  • “The Voyage of Albion’s Thistle” by Sean M. Wright
  • “Bootless in Chippenham” by Marino C. Alvarez
  • “The Clerkenwell Shadow” by Paul Hiscock
  • “The Adventure of the Worried Banker” by Arthur Hall
  • “The Recovery of the Ashes” by Kevin P Thornton
  • “The Golden Star of India” by Stephen Seitz
  • “The Mystery of the Patient Fisherman” by Jim French
  • “Sherlock Holmes in Bedlam” by David Friend
  • “The Adventure of the Ambulatory Cadaver” by Shane Simmons
  • “The Dutch Impostors” by Peter Coe Verbica
  • “The Missing Adam Tiler” by Mark Wardecker
Posted in Books & Reading, Short Stories | 16 Comments

reading short essays: SF 71

Slightly Foxed No. 71 – Autumn 2021 issue, quarterly literary publication, 94 pages

In 2022 I subscribed, getting a few back issues at the same time, to Slightly Foxed,  which describes itself as “an independent-minded quarterly that combines good looks, good writing and a personal approach. Slightly Foxed introduces its readers to books that are no longer new and fashionable but have lasting appeal. Good-humoured, unpretentious and a bit eccentric, it’s more like a well-read friend than a literary magazine.”

I dip into each issue when it comes, reading the short essays with pleasure. I just finished reading this issue, here’s the issue blurb, followed by the full contents.

“Andrew Joynes goes back to the Middle Ages • Margaret Drabble gets to the truth of the matter with Doris Lessing • John Smart dreams of cheese • Rachel Kelly finds consolation in poetry • Charles Elliott follows a paper trail • Clarissa Burden falls for Inspector Grant • Ken Haigh takes the Tolkien test • Caroline Jackson rides with the Irish RM • Patrick Welland reads an elegy to a family, and much more besides . . .

Contents in full:

  • Jocelin’s Folly • ANDREW JOYNES – William Golding, The Spire
  • Elegy to a Family • PATRICK WELLAND – George Clare, Last Waltz in Vienna
  • A Down-to-Earth Visionary • MARGARET DRABBLE – Doris Lessing, The Four-Gated City
  • Paper Trails • CHARLES ELLIOTT – Richard Altick, The Scholar Adventurers
  • Plenty to Say • OLIVIA POTTS – The novels of Mary Wesley
  • Gone Fishing • ADAM SISMAN – Hugh Falkus, The Stolen Years
  • Magical Talisman • SUE GAISFORD – Rosemary Sutcliff, Sword Song & The Shield Ring
  • The Ubiquitous Canadian • MICHAEL BARBER – Charles Ritchie, The Siren Years
  • A Smooth Man in a Trilby • CLARISSA BURDEN – Josephine Tey’s Inspector Grant novels
  • Dreaming of Cheese • JOHN SMART – John Squire (ed.), Cheddar Gorge
  • A Strangulation of the Soul • MAGGIE FERGUSSON – Brian Masters, Killing for Company
  • The Price of Virtue • FRANCES DONNELLY – Anita Brookner, Hotel du Lac
  • The Tolkien Test • KEN HAIGH – J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
  • Winston and Clementine • JANE RIDLEY – Mary Soames (ed.), Speaking for Themselves
  • Innocent or Not? • CHRISTIAN TYLER – Rita Monaldi & Francesco Sorti, Imprimatur
  • Out with the Galloping Major • CAROLINE JACKSON – Somerville and Ross, Some Experiences of an Irish RM 
  • Poetry, My Mother and Me • RACHEL KELLY – The consolation of poetry

Slightly Foxed also is a publisher. Are you a Slightly Foxed reader?

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, literary fiction | 15 Comments

Poems by J. H. Prynne

Poems by J. H. Prynne, Bloodaxe Books Ltd. 2015 trade paper edition, 671 pages plus index of titles, expanded edition of 2005 publication plus several newer collections.

I know poetry isn’t for everyone, by my love of poetry began when I was very young and my parents read it to me, and it has remained unabated since. Though I don’t read poetry every day, I do usually read some each week, sometimes favorites, sometimes less known either to me or generally.

In a recent issue of Slightly Foxed, the quarterly literary magazine to which I subscribe, there was an essay on J. H. Prynne, whose name was new to me. He is considered Britain’s leading late Modernist poet.

From the publisher:
“Prynne’s austere yet playful poetry challenges our sense of the world, not by any direct address to the reader but by showing everything in a different light, enacting slips and changes of meaning through shifting language. Not since the late work of Ezra Pound and the Maximus series of Charles Olson have the possibilities of poetry been so fundamentally questioned and extended as they are in the life work of J.H. Prynne. When his Poems was first published in 1999, it was immediately acclaimed as a landmark in modern poetry. Four further collections were added to the second edition of Poems in 2005. This expanded third edition of Poems (2015) includes the complete texts of his later work: Refuse Collection (2004), To Pollen (2006), Streak~~~Willing~~~Entourage /Artesian (2009), Sub Songs (2010), Kazoo Dreamboats; or, On What There Is (2011), and Al-Dente (2014), all previously available only in limited editions, as well as a group of uncollected poems.”

And there is this, from Robert Potts of The Guardian:

‘The longer I have stayed with these pieces, the more they have moved and haunted me; the more I have felt altered by having experienced them…Prynne is hard-going, off-putting, and much disliked by many more traditional writers; he is also, when one gets into him, so good that he changes the way you think and feel.’

I’ll be dipping into this as it sits out on the side table for some time to come.
Bob asked for a sample, so: Down where changed (1979), a title that itself seems to offer some expectation of fissure:

If the day glow is mean
and spoiled by recognition
as a battery hen, you must know

how the voice sways out of time
into double image, neither one true
a way not seen and not unseen

within its bent retort
we feed on flattery of the absent
its epic fear of indifference

all over again and then
that’s it, the whole procession
reshuffles into line.

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, New Arrivals, Poetry | 6 Comments

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to all! I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious home, so for me Easter was more about colored eggs and jelly beans than church, though we did go on Easter morning, but I do remember the chocolate eggs and bunnies, especially from See’s Candy. I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter, however you choose to observe it.

Peter Rabbit illustration by Beatrix Potter

Posted in At Home in Portland | 13 Comments

Golden Age Detective Stories edited by Otto Penzler

Golden Age Detective Stories edited by Otto Penzler, Penzler Publishers, 2021 trade paper, part of the American Mystery Classics series

The blurb from the publisher:
The greatest detectives of the Golden Age investigate the most puzzling crimes of the era. Sometimes, the police aren’t the best suited to solve a crime. Depending on the case, you may find that a retired magician, a schoolteacher, a Broadway producer, or a nun have the necessary skills to suss out a killer. Or, in other cases, a blind veteran, or a publisher, or a hard-drinking attorney, or a mostly-sober attorney… or, indeed, any sort of detective you could think of might be able to best the professionals when it comes to comprehending strange and puzzling murders.

Edgar Award-winning anthologist Otto Penzler selects some of the greatest American short stories from era. With authors including Ellery Queen, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Cornell Woolrich, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Anthony Boucher, this collection is a treat for those who know and love this celebrated period in literary history, and a great introduction to its best writers for the uninitiated.

Contents: 14 stories

The Enemy by Charlotte Armstrong, Detective Mike Russell
The Stripper by Anthony Boucher, Detective Sister Ursula
Postiche by Mignon G. Eberhart, Detective Susan Dare
The Case of the Crimson Kiss by Erle Stanley Gardner, Detective Perry Mason
The Enchanted Garden by H.F. Heard, Detective Mr. Mycroft
5-4=Murderer by Baynard Kendrick, Detective Captain Duncan Maclain
There’s Death for Remembrance by Frances & Richard Lockridge, Detectives Mr. & Mrs. North
The Monkey Murder by Stuart Palmer, Detective Hildegarde Withers
The Adventure of the African Traveler by Ellery Queen, Detective: Ellery Queen
Puzzle for Poppy by Patrick Quentin, Detectives Peter & Iris Duluth
From Another World by Clayton Rawson, Detective The Great Merlini
Good-bye, Good-bye! by Craig Rice, Detective John J. Malone
Locked Doors by Mary Roberts Rinehart, Detective: Hilda Adams
The Mystery in Room 913 by Cornell Woolrich, Detective Strike

My Take:

In an anthology edited by a knowledgeable editor such as this, the larger view of what’s classic and great in the genre is expected. My personal tastes don’t always coincide with accepted opinions, but that’s fine. These are all very good golden age stories, I just happen to like – or not like – some better than others. My favorites here were the Armstrong, Gardner, Kendrick, Queen, Quentin, Rawson, and Rice. You’re opinion will vary.

A good anthology and part of a good series, the American Mystery Classics, all edited by Penzler.

Posted in Anthology, Books & Reading, Short Stories | 8 Comments

short stories: In Space No One Can Hear You Scream

In Space No One Can Hear You Scream edited by Hank Davis, Baen Books 2013 mass market paperback, science fiction – horror

I don’t read a lot of horror, not being much of a fan of being scared or feeling terror. But I do sometimes enjoy “monster” fiction, so I’ll read Alien or Godzilla sorts of things, and I decided to buy this based on science fiction master type stories, rather than soul-grinding horror to keep me awake at night.

I like the editing chops of Hank Davis, I’ve enjoyed other anthologies he’s edited and was also briefly in an APA with him. His introductions are good and he included one of his stories here and it’s good too.

Should all the stories in this anthology are good, my favorites are  those by Sarah Hoyt, James H. Schmitz and George R. R. Martin. Prepared to feel a chill run up your back…


Introduction: It’s Dark Between the Stars, by Hank Davis
“A Walk in the Dark,” Arthur C. Clarke (Thrilling Wonder Stories, August 1950)
“Frog Water,” Tony Daniel (2013)
“Lost Memory,” Peter Phillips (Galaxy, May 1952)
“Dragons,” Sarah A. Hoyt (2013)
“The Last Weapon,” Robert Sheckley (Star Science Fiction Stories, 1953)
“Mongoose,” Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette (Lovecraft Unbound, 2009)
“Medusa,” Theodore Sturgeon (Astounding Science Fiction, February 1942)
“The Searcher,” James H. Schmitz (Analog, February 1966)
“The Rhine’s World Incident,” Neal Asher (Subterfuge, 2008)
“Nothing Happens on the Moon,” Paul Ernst (Astounding Science Fiction, February 1939)
“Visiting Shadow,” Hank Davis (2013)
“The God of the Asteroid,” Clark Ashton Smith (Wonder Stories, October 1932, as “Master of the Asteroid”)
“Sandkings,” George R. R. Martin (Omni, August 1979)

Posted in Books & Reading, Short Stories | 11 Comments

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi, Tor Books (March 2022) hardcover, 272 pages

The Blurb: (from the publisher’s website)
“When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls “an animal rights organization.” Tom’s team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on.

What Tom doesn’t tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here on Earth. Not our Earth, at least. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures named Kaiju roam a warm, human-free world. They’re the universe’s largest and most dangerous panda and they’re in trouble.

It’s not just the Kaiju Preservation Society who have found their way to the alternate world. Others have, too. And their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die.”

My Take:
What fun! I usually like what Scalzi writes, and I enjoyed this stand-alone novel more than most. It’s full of humor, SF and movie references, has an interesting lead character and the setting is great. I would  really like to read more about of this organization, alternate earth,  and people. More, please, Mr. Scalzi!

Posted in Books & Reading, current reading, Fiction | 10 Comments

A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie

A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie, first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club, June 1950 and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in the same month. I read Open Road ebook (Kindle) edition

Plot Summary:
A notice appears in the paper of Chipping Cleghorn: “A murder is announced and will take place on Friday, 29 October, at Little Paddocks, at 6.30 pm. Friends accept this, the only intimation.”

This surprises Letitia Blacklock, owner of Little Paddocks; however, she takes it in stride and prepares for guests that evening. There is, apparently a parlor game called “Murder” and everyone assumes that’s what this will be. Several friends and neighbors attend. As the clock strikes 6.30, the lights go out, and a door swings open, revealing a man with a blinding torch who demands the guests “Stick ’em up!” Most do so, believing it to be part of the game, but the game ends when shots are fired into the room. When the lights turn on, Miss Blacklock’s ear is bleeding from a bullet grazing her earlobe, and the gunman is dead on the ground. Mrs. Blacklock’s companion, Dora “Bunny” Bunner, recognizes the gunman as Rudi Scherz, a Swiss man who worked for a local hotel and had recently asked Letitia for money.

One by one, suspects are added and subtracted, and Miss Marple, who happened to be staying with a friend at the local vicarage, is called upon, along with Inspector Craddock, to get to the bottom of the case.

The novel is considered a crime novel classic. The book was heavily promoted upon publication in 1950 as being Christie’s fiftieth book, although in truth this figure could only be arrived at by counting in both UK and US short story collections. A slightly similar storyline had previously been explored in Christie’s Miss Marple short story “The Companion”, where the characters also lived in Little Paddocks.

My Take:
Yes, I’ve been reading/rereading Christie.

In what is sometimes an overabundance of words, the typical methods of Miss Marple are on full display in this novel, where human nature and motives from the past prove to be the key to solving the mystery. I like many of the Marple novels, but I found this one to be so-so.

Posted in Books & Reading, Friday Forgotten Books, Mystery | 8 Comments

short stories read – Poirot Investigates

Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie, Delhi Open Books. Kindle ebook edition

This is a short story collection written by Christie and first published in the UK by The Bodley Head in March 1924. In the eleven stories, famed eccentric detective Hercule Poirot solves a variety of mysteries involving greed, jealousy, and revenge. The American version of this book, published by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1925, featured a further three stories. Those stories are included in this ebook.



My Take:
In the mood for something simple, light, a little old-fashioned, I picked this ebook of fourteen Poirot stories. As expected, Poirot’s friend and companion Captain Hastings appears in each of the stories, relating the story to the reader in all but one of them, the other told by Poirot himself in flashback.

In a group of stories like this, especially as I read them one after the other, the bumbling ineptitude and various foibles of Hastings are on full, brightly lit display, and time after time his theories and guessed-at solutions are proved wrong, oft to his chagrin. Poirot, of course, is his usual intelligent and insightful self, his little grey cells leading him to the correct solution to each puzzle.

I read this on a pair of rainy afternoons, and thoroughly enjoyed it. One caution, however: the editing and especially the paragraph formatting are full of errors, so that it often appears as if one character has said something when it is actually another.

For a complete summary of the stories, see Wikipedia here.

Posted in Books & Reading, Short Stories | 10 Comments

Daylight Savings Time

Bah. I dislike it, intensely. It’s unnecessary, expensive, annoying, senseless and “saves” nothing. I say do away with it!


Posted in Adventure, Books & Reading, Short Stories | 11 Comments