Thursday, January 29, 2015

Book "The Adventure of The Dying Detective" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "The Adventure of the Dying Detective", in some editions simply titled "The Dying Detective", is one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Together with seven other stories, it is collected as His Last Bow.

About the Author: Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 at 11 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, Scotland. From 1876 to 1881, he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, including a period working in the town of Aston (now a district of Birmingham) and in Sheffield, as well as in Shropshire at Ruyton-XI-Towns. While studying, Doyle began writing short stories. His earliest extant fiction, "The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe", was unsuccessfully submitted to Blackwood's Magazine. His first published piece "The Mystery of Sasassa Valley", a story set in South Africa, was printed in Chambers's Edinburgh Journal on 6 September 1879. On 20 September 1879, he published his first non-fiction article, "Gelsemium as a Poison" in the British Medical Journal. In 1882 he joined former classmate George Turnavine Budd as his partner at a medical practice in Plymouth, but their relationship proved difficult, and Doyle soon left to set up an independent practice. Arriving in Portsmouth in June of that year with less than £10 (£900 today) to his name, he set up a medical practice at 1 Bush Villas in Elm Grove, Southsea. The practice was initially not very successful. While waiting for patients, Doyle again began writing stories and composed his first novels, The Mystery of Cloomber, not published until 1888, and the unfinished Narrative of John Smith, which would go unpublished until 2011. He amassed a portfolio of short stories including "The Captain of the Pole-Star" and "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement", both inspired by Doyle's time at sea, the latter of which popularized the mystery of the Mary Celeste and added fictional details such as the perfect condition of the ship (which had actually taken on water by the time it was discovered) and its boats remaining on board (the one boat was in fact missing) that have come to dominate popular accounts of the incident. Doyle struggled to find a publisher for his work. His first significant piece, A Study in Scarlet, was taken by Ward Lock Co. on 20 November 1886, giving Doyle £25 for all rights to the story. The piece appeared later that year in the Beeton's Christmas Annual and received good reviews in The Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald. The story featured the first appearance of Watson and Sherlock Holmes, partially modeled after his former university teacher Joseph Bell. Doyle wrote to him, "It is most certainly to you that I owe Sherlock Holmes ... Round the center of deduction and inference and observation which I have heard you inculcate I have tried to build up a man." Robert Louis Stevenson was able, even in faraway Samoa, to recognize the strong similarity between Joseph Bell and Sherlock Holmes: "My compliments on your very ingenious and very interesting adventures of Sherlock Holmes. ... Can this be my old friend Joe Bell?" Other authors sometimes suggest additional influences—for instance, the famous Edgar Allan Poe character C. Auguste Dupin. A sequel to A Study in Scarlet was commissioned and The Sign of the Four appeared in Lippincott's Magazine in February 1890, under agreement with the Ward Lock company. Doyle felt grievously exploited by Ward Lock as an author new to the publishing world and he left them. Short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes were published in the Strand Magazine. Doyle first began to write for the 'Strand' from his home at 2 Upper Wimpole Street, now marked by a memorial plaque. In this period, however, Holmes was not his sole subject and in 1893, he collaborated with J.M. Barrie on the libretto of Jane Annie. Doyle was found clutching his chest in the hall of Windlesham Manor, his house in Crowborough, East Sussex, on 7 July 1930. He died of a heart attack at the age of 71. His last words were directed toward his wife: "You are wonderful." At the time of his death, there was some controversy concerning his burial place, as he was avowedly not a Christian, considering himself a Spiritualist. He was first buried on 11 July 1930 in Windlesham rose garden. He was later re-interred together with his wife in Minstead churchyard in the New Forest, Hampshire. Carved wooden tablets to his memory and to the memory of his wife are held privately and are inaccessible to the public. That inscription reads, "Blade straight / Steel true / Arthur Conan Doyle / Born May 22nd 1859 / Passed On 7th July 1930." The epitaph on his gravestone in the churchyard reads, in part: "Steel true/Blade straight/Arthur Conan Doyle/Knight/Patriot, Physician, and man of letters". Undershaw, the home near Hindhead, Haslemere, south of London, that Doyle had built and lived in between October 1897 and September 1907, was a hotel and restaurant from 1924 until 2004. It was then bought by a developer and stood empty while conservationists and Doyle fans fought to preserve it. In 2012 the High Court ruled that the redevelopment permission be quashed because proper procedure had not been followed. A statue honors Doyle at Crowborough Cross in Crowborough, where he lived for 23 years. There is also a statue of Sherlock Holmes in Picardy Place, Edinburgh, close to the house where Doyle was born.

My Review: In this story, Dr. Watson is called to 221B Baker Street to tend Holmes, who is apparently dying of a rare Asian disease contracted while he was on a case at Rotherhithe. Watson is shocked, having heard nothing about his friend’s illness. Mrs. Hudson says that he has neither eaten nor drunk anything in three days.
Upon arriving, Watson finds Holmes in his bed looking very ill and gaunt indeed, and Holmes proceeds to make several odd demands of Watson. He is not to come near Holmes, for the illness is highly contagious. He will seek no help save from the man whom Holmes names. He will wait until six o’clock before Holmes names him. When Watson objects and tries to leave for help, Holmes musters enough strength to leap out of bed, and lock the door, taking the key. So, Watson is forced to wait. Holmes seems delirious at times.
Watson examines several objects in Holmes’s room while he waits. Holmes has a fit when Watson touches one item, a little black and white ivory box with a sliding lid. Holmes orders him to put it down, explaining that he does not like his things touched.
At six o’clock, Holmes tells Watson to turn the gaslight on, but only half-full. He then tells him to fetch Mr. Culverton Smith of 13 Lower Burke Street. Oddly, he also tells Watson to be sure that he and Smith return to Baker Street separately. Smith is not a doctor, but is supposedly an expert on the illness that ails Holmes. Also, Holmes explains that Smith does not particularly like him, for Holmes once cast the suspicion for Smith's nephew’s murder on him.
Outside Holmes’s door, Watson meets Inspector Morton. Upon hearing of Holmes’s illness, the inspector’s expression somewhat suggests exultation to Watson.
Watson goes to the address, and at first Smith refuses to see him. Watson forces his way in and once he makes it clear to an angry Culverton Smith that Sherlock Holmes is dying and wants to see him, his attitude changes drastically. He seems quite concerned, although for a moment, it seems to Watson that he is pleased. Smith agrees to come, and so Watson excuses himself by saying that he has another appointment. He arrives back at Baker Street before Smith gets there.
Holmes is pleased to hear that Smith is coming, and orders Watson to hide behind a decorative screen next to the bed. He does so, and presently, Culverton Smith arrives. His bedside manner seems more taunting than soothing.
Believing that they are alone, Smith is quite frank, and it soon emerges, to the hiding Watson’s horror, that Holmes has been sickened by the same illness that killed Smith’s nephew Victor. Believing that Holmes is at death’s door and will never get to repeat what he hears, Smith is also frank enough to admit that he murdered his nephew with this disease, which he had been studying. He sees the little ivory box, which Smith sent by post, and which contains a sharp spring infected with the illness. He pockets it, removing the evidence of his crime. He then resolves to stay there and watch Holmes die.
Holmes asks him to turn the gas up full, which he does. He also asks for a match and a cigarette. No sooner have these requests been fulfilled than Inspector Morton comes in — the gaslight was the signal to move in, it turns out. Holmes tells him to arrest Culverton Smith for his nephew’s murder. Smith, still as arrogant as ever, points out that his word is as good as Holmes’s in court, but then, of course, Watson emerges from behind the screen to present himself as a witness to the conversation.
Holmes is not really dying, of course. This has all been a ruse to get Culverton Smith to confess to his nephew’s murder. Holmes was not infected by the little box; he has enough enemies to know that he must always examine his mail carefully before he opens it. Starving himself for three days, and a little Vaseline, belladonna, rouge, and beeswax made him a convincing malingerer and the claim of the "disease's" infectious nature was to keep Watson from examining him and discovering the ruse.
Another excellent plot, I recommend this book to the permanent library of any reader that appreciates a well written mystery story, mainly featuring Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

If you read this review, feel free to leave a comment!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Book "Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person" by Barbara Venkataraman

About the Book: Fear not, Gentle Writer, Mrs. Grammar Person is here and she has the answers to all of the questions you never thought to ask. As a dedicated and serious grammarian, she will do what it takes to be entertaining and enlightening, but never vulgar or coarse. Heavens, no! Where are her smelling salts? Warm and witty, Mrs. G.P. makes grammar interesting with rhyming, wishful thinking, story-telling and a champagne toast. You are cordially invited to join her for a spot of tea!

About the Author: Award-winning author, Barbara Venkataraman is an attorney and mediator specializing in family law and debt collection.
She is the author of "Teatime with Mrs. Grammar Person"; "The Fight for Magicallus," a children's fantasy; a humorous short story entitled, "If You'd Just Listened to Me in the First Place"; and two books of humorous essays: "I'm Not Talking about You, Of Course" and "A Trip to the Hardware Store & Other Calamities," which are part of the "Quirky Essays for Quirky People" series. Both books of humorous essays won the "Indie Book of the Day" award.
Her latest works are "Death by Didgeridoo," first in the Jamie Quinn series, "The Case of the Killer Divorce," the second Jamie Quinn mystery, and, just out, "Peril in the Park," the latest in the popular Jamie Quinn series. Coming soon, "Engaged in Danger"--the next Jamie Quinn mystery!

My Review: This is another masterpiece of this author, a brilliant storyteller. In this short essay, Mrs. Barbara tells in a very light and humorous way the subject of grammar, in a perspective that teaches without being obnoxious. Being a professor myself, I have to tell that this is a very important subject, as I have many students in my classes that clearly leave high school without knowing how to properly write using plain English language. The atrocities they commit are painful to read. In this essay, we are presented to Mrs Grammar (and later, to Mr. Syntax). As is her characteristic, the author's writing flows smoothly and with elegance. It might take a couple of hours for you to read the entire book, and I will assure you that it will be two hours very well spent and you will find yourself learning something new and having a lot of fun while doing that. 
I recommend this book to all readers that want to improve their grammar while having fun reading the book. They will not be disappointed.

If you read this review, feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book "His Last Bow" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "His Last Bow", published in September 1917, is one of 56 short stories about Sherlock Holmes written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was first published in Strand Magazine, and, amongst six other stories, was collected in an anthology titled His Last Bow, also called Reminiscensces of Mr. Sherlock Holmes. The narration is in the third person, not, as usual, by Dr. Watson, and it is a spy story, rather than a murder mystery. Due to its portrayal of British and German spies, its publication during the First World War and its patriotic themes, the story has been interpreted as a propaganda tool intended to boost morale for British readers.

About the Author: Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 at 11 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, Scotland. From 1876 to 1881, he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, including a period working in the town of Aston (now a district of Birmingham) and in Sheffield, as well as in Shropshire at Ruyton-XI-Towns. While studying, Doyle began writing short stories. His earliest extant fiction, "The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe", was unsuccessfully submitted to Blackwood's Magazine. His first published piece "The Mystery of Sasassa Valley", a story set in South Africa, was printed in Chambers's Edinburgh Journal on 6 September 1879. On 20 September 1879, he published his first non-fiction article, "Gelsemium as a Poison" in the British Medical Journal. In 1882 he joined former classmate George Turnavine Budd as his partner at a medical practice in Plymouth, but their relationship proved difficult, and Doyle soon left to set up an independent practice. Arriving in Portsmouth in June of that year with less than £10 (£900 today) to his name, he set up a medical practice at 1 Bush Villas in Elm Grove, Southsea. The practice was initially not very successful. While waiting for patients, Doyle again began writing stories and composed his first novels, The Mystery of Cloomber, not published until 1888, and the unfinished Narrative of John Smith, which would go unpublished until 2011. He amassed a portfolio of short stories including "The Captain of the Pole-Star" and "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement", both inspired by Doyle's time at sea, the latter of which popularized the mystery of the Mary Celeste and added fictional details such as the perfect condition of the ship (which had actually taken on water by the time it was discovered) and its boats remaining on board (the one boat was in fact missing) that have come to dominate popular accounts of the incident. Doyle struggled to find a publisher for his work. His first significant piece, A Study in Scarlet, was taken by Ward Lock Co. on 20 November 1886, giving Doyle £25 for all rights to the story. The piece appeared later that year in the Beeton's Christmas Annual and received good reviews in The Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald. The story featured the first appearance of Watson and Sherlock Holmes, partially modeled after his former university teacher Joseph Bell. Doyle wrote to him, "It is most certainly to you that I owe Sherlock Holmes ... Round the center of deduction and inference and observation which I have heard you inculcate I have tried to build up a man." Robert Louis Stevenson was able, even in faraway Samoa, to recognize the strong similarity between Joseph Bell and Sherlock Holmes: "My compliments on your very ingenious and very interesting adventures of Sherlock Holmes. ... Can this be my old friend Joe Bell?" Other authors sometimes suggest additional influences—for instance, the famous Edgar Allan Poe character C. Auguste Dupin. A sequel to A Study in Scarlet was commissioned and The Sign of the Four appeared in Lippincott's Magazine in February 1890, under agreement with the Ward Lock company. Doyle felt grievously exploited by Ward Lock as an author new to the publishing world and he left them. Short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes were published in the Strand Magazine. Doyle first began to write for the 'Strand' from his home at 2 Upper Wimpole Street, now marked by a memorial plaque. In this period, however, Holmes was not his sole subject and in 1893, he collaborated with J.M. Barrie on the libretto of Jane Annie. Doyle was found clutching his chest in the hall of Windlesham Manor, his house in Crowborough, East Sussex, on 7 July 1930. He died of a heart attack at the age of 71. His last words were directed toward his wife: "You are wonderful." At the time of his death, there was some controversy concerning his burial place, as he was avowedly not a Christian, considering himself a Spiritualist. He was first buried on 11 July 1930 in Windlesham rose garden. He was later re-interred together with his wife in Minstead churchyard in the New Forest, Hampshire. Carved wooden tablets to his memory and to the memory of his wife are held privately and are inaccessible to the public. That inscription reads, "Blade straight / Steel true / Arthur Conan Doyle / Born May 22nd 1859 / Passed On 7th July 1930." The epitaph on his gravestone in the churchyard reads, in part: "Steel true/Blade straight/Arthur Conan Doyle/Knight/Patriot, Physician, and man of letters". Undershaw, the home near Hindhead, Haslemere, south of London, that Doyle had built and lived in between October 1897 and September 1907, was a hotel and restaurant from 1924 until 2004. It was then bought by a developer and stood empty while conservationists and Doyle fans fought to preserve it. In 2012 the High Court ruled that the redevelopment permission be quashed because proper procedure had not been followed. A statue honors Doyle at Crowborough Cross in Crowborough, where he lived for 23 years. There is also a statue of Sherlock Holmes in Picardy Place, Edinburgh, close to the house where Doyle was born.

My Review: In this story, we are on the eve of the First World War, and Von Bork, a German agent, is getting ready to leave England with his vast collection of intelligence, gathered over a four-year period. His wife and household have already left Harwich for Flushing in the Netherlands, leaving only him and his elderly housekeeper. Von Bork's diplomat friend, Baron von Herling, is impressed by his collection of vital British military secrets, and tells Von Bork that he will be received in Berlin as a hero. Von Bork indicates that he is waiting for one last transaction with his Irish-American informant, Altamont, who will arrive shortly with a rich treasure: naval signals.
Von Herling leaves. Von Bork then hears another car arriving. It is Altamont. By this time, the old housekeeper has turned her light off and retired. Altamont shows him a package.
Altamont proceeds to disparage Von Bork's safe, but Von Bork proudly says that nothing can cut through the metal, and that it has a double combination lock. He even tells Altamont the combination: "August 1914". Altamont then insinuates that German agents get rid of their informants when they are finished with them, naming several who have ended up in prison. Altamont's mistrust of Von Bork is evident in his refusal to hand over the package before he gets his check. Von Bork, for his part, wants to examine the document before handing over the check.
Altamont hands him the package. Upon opening it, he finds it to be a book called Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, hardly what he expected. Even less expected is the chloroform-soaked rag that is held in his face by Altamont a moment later. Altamont, it turns out, is none other than Sherlock Holmes, and the chauffeur who brought him is Dr. Watson. Now much older than in their heyday, they have nonetheless not only caught several spies (Holmes is actually responsible for the imprisoned agents of whom he spoke) in their return from retirement, but fed the Germans some thoroughly untrustworthy intelligence. Holmes has been on this case for two years, and it has taken him to Chicago, Buffalo, and Ireland, where he learnt to play the part of a bitter Irish-American, even gaining the credentials of a member of a secret society. He then identified the security leak through which British secrets were reaching the Germans.
The housekeeper was part of the plot too. The light that she switched off was the signal to Holmes and Watson that the coast was clear.
They drive Von Bork and all of the evidence to Scotland Yard.
At the end, it is revealed that Holmes has retired from active detective work. He spends his days beekeeping in the countryside and writing his definitive work on investigation.
The story is the last chronological installment of the series, though yet another collection (The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes), set before the story, was published four years later. In reference to the impending World War I, Holmes concludes,
"There's an east wind coming, Watson."
"I think not, Holmes. It is very warm."
"Good old Watson! You are the one fixed point in a changing age. There's an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it's God's own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared."
The patriotic sentiment of the above passage has been widely quoted, and was later used in the final scene of the Basil Rathbone film Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942), set in World War II, implied to have been a fictitious quote of Winston Churchill.
Another excellent plot, I recommend this book to the permanent library of any reader that appreciates a well written mystery story, mainly featuring Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

If you read this review, feel free to leave a comment!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Book "Resist" by Anne-Rae Vasquez

About the Book: In a fight to save human kind from obliteration, Harry and Cristal continue to battle against the dark forces. However, the supposed angel forces have given up on mankind leaving Harry and Cristal in a terrifying dilemma. If the end is now, can online gamers save the world? Harry Doubt thinks so.

About the Author:Anne-Rae Vasquez's upcoming book Reveal book 3 of the Among Us Trilogy is scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2015. Her latest novels, RESIST, book 2 of the Among Us Trilogy and Imminent-a Truth Seeker Conspiracy Thriller were released in November 2014. Doubt, Book 1 of the Among Us Trilogy was a Gold winner in the Readers' Favorite Book Awards 2014. Doubt was launched at the Raindance Book Festival in 2013. The Among Us Trilogy questions what is beyond the reality of this world and ties in different supernatural religious beliefs of God, Heaven, Purgatory and Hell, angels and demons apocalypse, spirituality and fantasy by mixing themes from shows like Fringe and Supernatural to create an end of the world religious paranormal mystery thriller.
Her previous novel Almost a Turkish Soap Opera was adapted into a screenplay and later produced into an award winning feature film and web series and was her directorial debut. Her other works include: Gathering Dust - a collection of poems, Salha's Secrets to Middle Eastern Cooking Cookbook published by AR Publishing Inc. and Teach Yourself Great Web Design in a Week, published by Sams.net (a division of Macmillan Publishing).
In her parallel life, she hosts/produces Fiction Frenzy TV, a weekly VLog channel featuring indie artists, authors, filmmakers and musicians. In addition to this, she freelances as a journalist for Digital Journal and manages a production department.
Almost a Turkish Soap Opera was produced by Joseph Khalil, Sababa Emporium Film Productions.
-----
Almost a Turkish Soap Opera is an award winning feature film, and web series adapted from the novel that captures the turmoil of two young modern Turkish men trying to make a home in the West but finding their lives have turned into a Turkish soap opera. Almost a Turkish Soap Opera, an independent film by Sababa Emporium Productions and AR Films screened and won awards at film festivals and was released on DVD in Dec 2012. It is available to view on Amazon Prime Video. The film reflects on how Turkish soap operas have become very popular in the Middle East and now in Europe and how the West has influenced the Middle Eastern culture. For details go to www.almostaturkishsoapopera.com

My Review: If you liked the first book of this trilogy, you will love the sequel. This is a very well written book, directed to the young adult audience, but any reader that is looking for spending some hours entertained will enjoy very much this reading. Harry and Cristal continue their adventures, in search for Harry's mother and Cristal's father. In this episode, Cristal opens a portal to the purgatory and Harry goes in, finding there (for his surprise) Gabriel. Gabriel conducts Harry to Bina (his mother) and Carlos (Cristal's father) that are now attached by a strong and strange force. Harry has to leave, but he cannot bring Brina and Carlos back with him. His visit to the purgatory triggers a lot of consequences, and all action starts to flow in a fast pace. Karim and Raffe continue to amaze us and let us without an answer on which side they are playing for.
The mix of science, religion, angels, demons, heroes and villains is just perfect.
This sequel only make us want to read the third episode  of this trilogy as soon as it becomes available. I would advice the reader to read the first episode before reading this one, so he can understand better the relation among the characters.
This book was written by Anne-Rae Vasquez and I received a copy for reviewing from the author. I was not requested to write a positive review. Opinion expressed here is my own.

If you read this review, feel free to leave your comments!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book "The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax" is one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is one of the eight stories in the cycle collected as His Last Bow, and one of the few stories in which for much of the plot Watson must act alone and try his best with Holmes left in the background.

About the Author: Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle was born on 22 May 1859 at 11 Picardy Place, Edinburgh, Scotland. From 1876 to 1881, he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, including a period working in the town of Aston (now a district of Birmingham) and in Sheffield, as well as in Shropshire at Ruyton-XI-Towns. While studying, Doyle began writing short stories. His earliest extant fiction, "The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe", was unsuccessfully submitted to Blackwood's Magazine. His first published piece "The Mystery of Sasassa Valley", a story set in South Africa, was printed in Chambers's Edinburgh Journal on 6 September 1879. On 20 September 1879, he published his first non-fiction article, "Gelsemium as a Poison" in the British Medical Journal. In 1882 he joined former classmate George Turnavine Budd as his partner at a medical practice in Plymouth, but their relationship proved difficult, and Doyle soon left to set up an independent practice. Arriving in Portsmouth in June of that year with less than £10 (£900 today) to his name, he set up a medical practice at 1 Bush Villas in Elm Grove, Southsea. The practice was initially not very successful. While waiting for patients, Doyle again began writing stories and composed his first novels, The Mystery of Cloomber, not published until 1888, and the unfinished Narrative of John Smith, which would go unpublished until 2011. He amassed a portfolio of short stories including "The Captain of the Pole-Star" and "J. Habakuk Jephson's Statement", both inspired by Doyle's time at sea, the latter of which popularized the mystery of the Mary Celeste and added fictional details such as the perfect condition of the ship (which had actually taken on water by the time it was discovered) and its boats remaining on board (the one boat was in fact missing) that have come to dominate popular accounts of the incident. Doyle struggled to find a publisher for his work. His first significant piece, A Study in Scarlet, was taken by Ward Lock Co. on 20 November 1886, giving Doyle £25 for all rights to the story. The piece appeared later that year in the Beeton's Christmas Annual and received good reviews in The Scotsman and the Glasgow Herald. The story featured the first appearance of Watson and Sherlock Holmes, partially modeled after his former university teacher Joseph Bell. Doyle wrote to him, "It is most certainly to you that I owe Sherlock Holmes ... Round the center of deduction and inference and observation which I have heard you inculcate I have tried to build up a man." Robert Louis Stevenson was able, even in faraway Samoa, to recognize the strong similarity between Joseph Bell and Sherlock Holmes: "My compliments on your very ingenious and very interesting adventures of Sherlock Holmes. ... Can this be my old friend Joe Bell?" Other authors sometimes suggest additional influences—for instance, the famous Edgar Allan Poe character C. Auguste Dupin. A sequel to A Study in Scarlet was commissioned and The Sign of the Four appeared in Lippincott's Magazine in February 1890, under agreement with the Ward Lock company. Doyle felt grievously exploited by Ward Lock as an author new to the publishing world and he left them. Short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes were published in the Strand Magazine. Doyle first began to write for the 'Strand' from his home at 2 Upper Wimpole Street, now marked by a memorial plaque. In this period, however, Holmes was not his sole subject and in 1893, he collaborated with J.M. Barrie on the libretto of Jane Annie. Doyle was found clutching his chest in the hall of Windlesham Manor, his house in Crowborough, East Sussex, on 7 July 1930. He died of a heart attack at the age of 71. His last words were directed toward his wife: "You are wonderful." At the time of his death, there was some controversy concerning his burial place, as he was avowedly not a Christian, considering himself a Spiritualist. He was first buried on 11 July 1930 in Windlesham rose garden. He was later re-interred together with his wife in Minstead churchyard in the New Forest, Hampshire. Carved wooden tablets to his memory and to the memory of his wife are held privately and are inaccessible to the public. That inscription reads, "Blade straight / Steel true / Arthur Conan Doyle / Born May 22nd 1859 / Passed On 7th July 1930." The epitaph on his gravestone in the churchyard reads, in part: "Steel true/Blade straight/Arthur Conan Doyle/Knight/Patriot, Physician, and man of letters". Undershaw, the home near Hindhead, Haslemere, south of London, that Doyle had built and lived in between October 1897 and September 1907, was a hotel and restaurant from 1924 until 2004. It was then bought by a developer and stood empty while conservationists and Doyle fans fought to preserve it. In 2012 the High Court ruled that the redevelopment permission be quashed because proper procedure had not been followed. A statue honors Doyle at Crowborough Cross in Crowborough, where he lived for 23 years. There is also a statue of Sherlock Holmes in Picardy Place, Edinburgh, close to the house where Doyle was born.

My Review: In this story, Holmes sends Dr. Watson to Lausanne to investigate Lady Frances Carfax’s disappearance. Holmes is too busy in London. Lady Frances is a lone, unwed woman denied a rich inheritance on account of her sex. She does, however, carry valuable jewels with her. It is also her habit to write to her old governess, Miss Dobney, every other week, but for the past five weeks, there has not been a word from her. She has left the Hôtel National for parts unknown. Her last two bank transactions were checks, one to pay her hotel bill, and another for £50 to her maid, Miss Marie Devine.
In Switzerland, Watson finds out that Lady Frances stayed at the Hôtel International for several weeks, but then suddenly left in a hurry one day. Only one witness could suggest an explanation, one involving a big, bearded man who kept hounding her. It also emerges that Lady Frances’s maid has left her employ, although it is not known why.
Watson finds out where Lady Frances went, and inquires at the Englischer Hof in Baden, Germany. She stayed there for a fortnight and met a couple named Schlessinger, a missionary from South America, and an invalid. Lady Frances left with them three weeks ago for London, and nothing has been heard of her since. Watson also finds out that the big bearded man, the “savage”, came about a week ago looking for her. Watson telegraphs Holmes about his progress, and oddly, Holmes wires back asking for a description of Dr. Schlessinger’s left ear. Watson believes this to be Holmes’s attempt at humor. Holmes is actually in earnest.
Watson visits Marie Devine, the former maid, in Montpellier, France, and it turns out that her upcoming wedding was why she left Lady Frances’s employ. The £50 was a wedding present. She, too, believes that the bearded man was the reason that her former mistress left Lausanne. He was quite a rough man. During this interview, Marie sees the very man in question in the street. Watson rushes out and demands to know who he is and what he has done with Lady Frances. A fight ensues and Watson is nearly strangled. A French workman breaks the fight up with his cudgel and the bearded man withdraws. It then turns out that the workman is a disguised Holmes, who suggests that Watson accompany him back to London, and wryly observes that there is no blunder which Watson has failed to commit in this investigation.
Before leaving, however, Holmes interviews someone. It is the bearded man, Philip Green, an old suitor of Lady Frances’s. Yes, he is seeking Lady Frances, but he still wants to win her heart. As a younger man, he was not rich. Now that he has made his fortune in South Africa, he hopes she will see him differently, but he is still rather churlish and clearly Lady Frances is unwilling. Holmes recommends that he go back to London.
Once Holmes and Watson are back at 221B Baker Street, Holmes reads a telegram from Baden about Dr. Schlessinger’s left ear — “jagged or torn”. This confirms Holmes’s suspicion that Dr. Schlessinger is in fact Henry Peters, a vicious rascal from Australia (his earlobe was chewed away in a bar brawl). His wife’s real name is Fraser. He beguiles young women by playing to their religious beliefs, as Schlessinger did with Lady Frances. This suggested his true identity to Holmes. Holmes believes that Lady Frances is in London, and quite possibly dead, or if not, confined in some way.
The search seems hopeless. The police follow known associates, Holmes places advertisements hoping to learn something, but nothing happens. Then, a pawnshop reports that someone matching Schlessinger’s description has pawned a pendant very much like one owned by Lady Frances. He gave a false address, but this gives Holmes what he needs. He has Philip Green wait in the pawnshop, knowing that Henry Peters will want to pawn more jewellery. It takes a few days, but he is not disappointed. His wife shows up this time to pawn a matching pendant, and Green follows her, first to an undertaker’s, where he finds Peters’s wife discussing an “out of the ordinary” order, and later to an address in Brixton. He watches the house and sees some men deliver a coffin.
Holmes writes Green a note and sends him to the police to fetch a warrant. Meanwhile, Holmes and Watson go first to the undertaker’s to ask about the funeral — it is at eight o’clock the next morning — and then to Brixton where they demand to see Dr. Schlessinger, or whatever he may call himself. Once inside, in the absence of a warrant, Holmes is obliged to resort to force to search Peters’s house. He finds the coffin, and deep inside it is a small, emaciated, very old, dead woman. It is certainly not Lady Frances. Peters explains that it is his wife’s old nurse. The police come and tell Holmes and Watson that they must leave. Peters gloats over Holmes’s obvious humiliation.
The day ends in apparent failure. Nothing suspicious can be found about the household, no warrant arrives, and Holmes and Watson go back to Baker Street. Holmes does not sleep that night, preferring to go over the case in his mind.
Finally, early the next morning, Holmes realises what is going on. He and Watson rush to Brixton and make sure that the coffin is not removed from the house to go for burial. They unscrew the coffin lid and find Lady Frances inside, chloroformed. The Peterses, while dishonest enough to kidnap someone to steal her jewels, were too squeamish to commit murder. Watson manages to revive her, and the Peterses are found to have fled. It was the remark heard by Green at the undertaker’s that helped Holmes deduce the truth. The woman there had been talking about an unusual coffin, and Holmes then also remembered that it was a big coffin for a very small woman, the idea being to obtain the necessary legal documents for the old woman, and then “legitimise” the burial of a coffin containing two bodies.
Another excellent plot, I recommend this book to the permanent library of any reader that appreciates a well written mystery story, mainly featuring Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

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