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Friday, October 31, 2014

Balance of October, 2014

During the month of October, I reviewed the following:

Books:
- "The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "The Naval Treaty" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "Transoceanic Lights" by Sui Li. Read my review.
- "A Charge of Valor" by Morgan Rice. Read my review.
- "The Final Problem" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "The Adventure of the Empty House" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "Gameland - Episode 7 - Tag, You're Dead" by Saul W. Tanpepper. Read my review.
- "The Adventure of the Norwook Builder" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "Dracengard" by Christopher Vale. Read my review.
- "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "Gameland - Episode 8 - Jacker's Code" by Saul W.Tanpepper. Read my review.
- "The Adventure of the Priory School" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Book "The Adventure of the Priory School" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "The Adventure of the Priory School", one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is one of 13 stories in the cycle collected as The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Doyle ranked "The Adventure of the Priory School" tenth in his list of his twelve favorite Holmes stories.

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 receives a visit from Dr. Thorneycroft Huxtable, the founder and principal of a preparatory school called Priory School in Northern England. He beseeches Holmes to come back to Mackleton with him to look into the kidnapping of one of his pupils.
The boy's father, the Duke of Holdernesse, has offered a reward of £5000 to anyone who can tell him where his son, the ten-year-old Lord Saltire, is, and a further £1000 to anyone who can tell him who his kidnappers are.
James Wilder, the Duke's personal secretary, has also been indiscreet enough to mention something to Huxtable about the young Lord's unhappy home life. His parents no longer live together, his mother having moved to Southern France. Wilder has said that Lord Saltire's sympathies were with his mother in these matters. Upon arrival at the school, though, Lord Saltire seemed to be quite happy, and in his element.
Less than a fortnight later, however, he suddenly disappeared from the school. He could only have left by climbing out of his window at night and down the thick ivy to the ground. Curiously, the German master, Heidegger, is also missing, along with his bicycle. Lord Saltire had received a letter that very day from his father, but Huxtable has no idea of the contents. The boy has taken it with him. He was fully dressed, too. However, Heidegger left his shirt and socks behind.
Holmes decides to accompany Huxtable back to Mackleton, even though he is quite busy with business in London. He tells Huxtable first that if he is going to telegraph home, it would be wise to let the rumor of progress in Liverpool persist.
Once in the North, Holmes asks the Duke a few questions. His Grace does not think that his estranged wife has anything to do with his son's disappearance, nor has there been a ransom demand. He can also think of nothing in the letter that he wrote, posted by James Wilder along with dozens of others, that could have upset Lord Saltire.
Holmes establishes that the boy and his kidnappers could not have used the nearby road without being seen, suggesting that they went cross-country. As if to confirm this, the police find the boy's school cap in some gypsies' possession. They swear that they simply found it on the moor, but the police lock them up.
Holmes and Dr. Watson go hunting for clues. They find a bicycle track, but it is not Heidegger's; it does not match his tires. Holmes observes, however, that one tire has a patch on it. Most anything observable has been obliterated by cow tracks, making sleuthing rather difficult. Indeed, the only marks on the ground anywhere nearby are cows' hoof prints.
Eventually, Heidegger's bicycle tracks are found, and they end where he apparently had his head smashed in. There he lies, quite dead.
A number of things may already be deduced:
  • Lord Saltire left the school of his own free will;
  • Heidegger hurriedly went after him, having seen him climb down, which explains his less than complete dress;
  • The boy had a swift means of escape, for Heidegger would not have bothered with his bicycle if the boy had been on foot;
  • The boy had an adult companion, for he himself could not have smashed Heidegger's head in;
  • No other cyclist, nor another man on foot could have anything to do with the murder, for there are no marks on the ground to indicate this;

Something caused the boy to leave school at night, either homesickness (unlikely) or the letter he was mentioned to have received.
Holmes and Watson find themselves at the Fighting Cock Inn, and meet the innkeeper, Reuben Hayes, who seems startled indeed to hear that Holmes wants to go to Holdernesse Hall, the Duke's nearby house, to tell him news of his son. The two men have lunch there, and Holmes suddenly realizes something: He and Watson saw lots of cow tracks out on the moor, all along their line of investigation, but never at any time did they see any cows. Furthermore, the patterns of the hoof prints were quite unusual, suggesting that the cow in question walked, cantered, and galloped – very unusual behavior for a cow. Holmes and Watson sneak out to Hayes's stable and examine the horse's hooves. As Holmes has expected, there is evidence of recent shoeing, but with old shoes and new nails. Examining the nearby smithy, Holmes and Watson are rather belligerently asked to leave by Mr. Hayes. A short way down the road towards the Duke's house, Watson tells Holmes that he is convinced that Hayes knows all about the sordid business at hand.
Shortly afterwards, the two men hide as a cyclist comes along the road from the direction of the Duke's. It is James Wilder, and he looks agitated. He arrives at the inn. Soon afterwards, a trap pulls out of the stable yard and goes along the road towards Chesterfield. A while later, someone else – it is getting dark and only a fleeting glimpse of the new visitor is caught – arrives at the inn.
Coming closer, Holmes observes Wilder's bicycle tires and notes that they are the same make as the first ones encountered on the moor, and as expected, one tire has a patch. Holmes uses Watson as a stepladder to have a look at the meeting. His look is very brief, and then they leave.
The next morning, they go to Holdernesse Hall, where they find that the Duke is not at all well. Nevertheless, Holmes demands from him a check for £6000, saying that he has earned the reward. His son is at the Fighting Cock, and the accused is the Duke himself.
Holmes has not, however, deduced the whole story. He has found Lord Saltire, and seen the Duke with him while standing on Watson's shoulders, but the actual mastermind of this crime is James Wilder. He conceived a plan to kidnap Lord Saltire to force the Duke to change his will. Wilder has always felt cheated, because he is, as it turns out, the Duke's son, born out of wedlock to the Duke's late lover, before he married the Duchess, who bore the Duke a legitimate heir. Wilder knew very well that his father would not call the police on him, as he abhorred the very idea of scandal. The plan began to unravel when Wilder hired Hayes – who has now fled, but been caught on Holmes's information – to do the actual kidnapping. Hayes killed Heidegger, and when Wilder heard the news, he confessed all to his father. So anxious was the Duke to avoid scandal, he agreed to let his younger son stay at the inn for another three days, and to keep quiet, so that Hayes could flee justice.
All ends well, except for Hayes, who faces the gallows. Lord Saltire is brought home from the inn and the Duke writes to his estranged wife asking her to reconcile with him. This he feels she will be willing to do, for the source of the friction between them is going away: James Wilder is being packed off to Australia to seek his fortune there.
As for the cow tracks, they were accomplished by shoeing the horses with special shoes shaped like cow's hooves.
An splendid plot, I recommend this story to any reader that appreciates a very well written mystery.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book "Gameland - Episode 8 - Jacker's Code" by Saul W.Tanpepper

About the Book: The shocking conclusion to the high-tech horror thriller, GAMELAND.
Jessie and the remaining gamers and hackers struggle against all odds to escape Gameland and Long Island alive, even though some of them have been infected with the zombie virus. Determined to do whatever is necessary, they have yet to face the most difficult decisions of their lives, not knowing if they will ever be able to return to the lives they so recklessly left behind.
The world is suddenly a very different place, where monsters aren't always kept behind walls. They can be anywhere.

About the Author: Saul writes in several speculative fiction genres, including horror, cyberpunk, biopunk, and straight science fiction. A former Army medic and trauma specialist, he earned a PhD in molecular biology and genetics; his works are heavily informed by these past experiences.
Saul spent his formative years in a century-old house overlooking the Erie Canal in Upstate New York. He shared an attic room with all manner of creatures, not all, he is convinced, flesh and blood.
After several years spent overseas and working his way to executive positions in biotech, he returned to his true passion of storytelling.
He now writes full time from his home in the San Francisco Bay Area. He continues to be haunted by a variety of creatures, including a wife, kids, three dogs, three cats, twenty chickens, a wayward rooster, and one very grumpy possum. They are all flesh and blood.
Except for the possum, which he's sure is the reincarnated spirit of Jack Torrance.
Visit him at tanpepperwrites.com
Subscribe to be notified of new releases and exclusive deals at tinyletter.com/SWTanpepper

My Review: This is a very well written series with a very intense story-line.  This particular episode is the last book, so it does not stand by itself as a story. It starts where episode seven ended and finishes the series. The plot is interesting and will keep you reading on the edge of your chair for most of the book. The characters are well developed and the scenario is so richly described that you feel you are inside the story. In episode one we saw a group of game hackers deciding to break into Long Island's Gameland, a place where nobody lives, because of an outbreak that happened twelve years before. All population that survived the outbreak were evacuated. Now the only entities that inhabit that wasteland are the zombies. Their adventure starts with a poorly planed trip idea and tension escalates during preparation for the trip and execution of the trip. They soon figure out that it is easier to enter than to leave the Island... In episode two, after trying to leave the Island, Jake is trapped and left behind, so Jessie wants to return to rescue him. Kelly anticipates her move and goes alone for the rescue. Then the whole group unite again, trying to bring them home. It fails badly and the whole group is back in the Island and facing some more mysteries. In episode three, Steven is an employee from Arc, doing some experiments on our group with new drugs to create an improved version of zombie. But before all were injected, they manage to escape from La Guardia Airport and go in the direction of Gameland. When arriving there (after lots of incidents and twists in the story), they find out some answers to questions they had from Steven and they were not happy about what they discover. In episode four, the group is in the heart of Gameland, trying to break the failsafe mechanism that could allow them to go back home. One of the members of the group is bitten and infected. More revelations happen. In the fifth episode, Jessie goes in search of a treatment to contain the disease, but she needs to return before it is too late. Other characters are introduced into the story, some that were left behind when the outbreak happened. In the sixth episode, Jessie finds other characters when trying to return to her group with the treatment. Things get out of control and these new characters ended up kidnapping one of the original group and they leave in search of the source of the treatment. An intense end leave us in suspense, and the seventh episode brings us to a battle for survival more intense than any previous one. This last episode comes with the promise of a rescue that starts with a disaster and ends up with the core of the group going back to the real world. Some missing members that did not make it are remembered. But life is not completely back to normal, as normal is a very subjective notion. But the series ends up in a positive tone, with unexpected hope.
This book was written by Saul W.Tanpepper in December of 2012. I recommend this book to the permanent library of all thriller lovers, young adults or not. But be aware that you should read the previous episodes before reading this one, so you can understand what is going on and the interaction among the characters. If you enjoyed the first seven, you will love this final book in this series.

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



Monday, October 20, 2014

Book "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist", one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is one of 13 stories in the cycle collected as The Return of Sherlock Holmes.

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 honours 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 is contacted by Miss Violet Smith of Farnham, Surrey about an unusual turn in her and her mother’s lives. Violet’s father has recently died, and left his wife and daughter rather poor. However, a notice appeared in the newspaper not much later inquiring as to their whereabouts. Answering it, they met Mr. Carruthers and Mr. Woodley, the former a pleasant enough man, but the latter a bully. They had come from South Africa, where they had known Violet’s uncle Ralph Smith, who had now also died in poverty and apparently wanted to see that his relatives were provided for. This struck Violet as odd, since she and her family had not heard a word from Uncle Ralph since he'd gone to South Africa 25 years ago. Carruthers and Woodley explained that before dying, Ralph had heard of his brother’s death and felt responsible for his survivors’ welfare.
Carruthers began by offering Violet a job as a live-in music teacher for his ten-year-old daughter at £100 a year, about twice the going rate. She accepted after Carruthers said that she could visit her mother on weekends. That went well until Mr. Woodley came to stay for a week. He made the most oafish, clumsiest sexual advances and boasted that if Violet married him, she would have a life of luxury. He even grabbed her and demanded a kiss, precipitating expulsion by his host, Carruthers. Violet has not seen Woodley since.
The specific thing that has brought Violet to seek Holmes’s services, however, is the strange man who follows her on his bicycle as she cycles to and from the railway station for her weekend visits to her mother. The strange man always keeps his distance behind her and disappears without a trace, never letting her near him, and always along the same lonely stretch of road. Violet does not recognize him, but he has a black beard. Holmes asks her about her admirers, and other than Woodley, if he can be styled as such, she can only think of Mr. Carruthers, who, although a perfect gentleman at all times, seems attracted to her.
After Violet leaves, Holmes observes that it is odd that a household would pay £100 a year for a music teacher but be too cheap to pay for a horse and trap. He sends Dr. Watson to Surrey to see what he can find out. This turns out to be virtually nothing, except to establish that the lady’s story is true, and that the mystery man comes out of and goes back into a local house, Charlington Hall. Holmes upbraids Watson for his lackluster results. They also receive a letter from Violet that evening saying that Carruthers has proposed to her, but she had to refuse since she is already engaged to a man named Cyril Morton, an electrical engineer in Coventry.
Holmes goes to Surrey himself, and gets into a fight in a pub for his troubles; when he returns and tells Watson what happened, he actually considers his experience in Surrey to be hilarious. It seems that Mr. Woodley has been in the taproom at the pub and heard his name mentioned in conversation. He comes out and demands to know who Holmes is and what he wants. The discussion escalates to violence; Holmes emerges with a few bruises, whereas Woodley has to be carried home. The innkeeper has merely mentioned that Woodley is a regular weekend guest at Charlington Hall, which is rented by Williamson, who, rumor has it, is a clergyman.
Holmes returns to 221-B Baker Street with his face somewhat marred, and another letter arrives from Violet, saying that her situation has become impossible owing to Mr. Carruthers’s proposals, and Mr. Woodley’s reappearance. She is quitting. Holmes knows that some intrigue is afoot, and he tells Watson that they must get themselves to Surrey to see that Violet makes it to the station. Carruthers has at last acquired a trap, and she need not ride her bicycle this time.
Through a failure to realize that Violet might take an earlier train than usual, Holmes discovers that he is too late to meet Violet. The trap comes along the road, but by the time it does, no one is in it. Violet has been abducted. Holmes and Watson board the empty trap in an attempt to go after the kidnappers. They come face-to-face with the mysterious cyclist, who pulls a revolver on them. However, both parties quickly realize that they are on the same side; both have Violet’s welfare in mind. The cyclist declares that the abductors are Woodley and Williamson. He evidently knows something of the intrigue.
The group first find an unconscious groom, who was driving the trap, in the bushes, and then they find all three persons that they have been seeking on the Charlington Hall grounds, with the apparently defrocked clergyman performing a wedding ceremony between the other two. The bride is somewhat unwilling, judging from the gag over her mouth. Woodley's boast of having married Violet leads Carruthers, the mysterious cyclist, to pull out his revolver and shoot Woodley, wounding him.
The intrigue does indeed involve Uncle Ralph in South Africa. He was dying when Carruthers and Woodley left; far from being penniless at his death, it is revealed that in reality, Uncle Ralph had amassed a large fortune. As he was illiterate, he would surely die intestate, and therefore Violet would inherit his wealth as Ralph’s next of kin. The two crooks made their way to England in the hopes that one of them would get to marry Violet — Woodley won the chance in a card game on the ship — and they had to draw Williamson into the plot, promising him a share of the lucre. The plan went awry when first, Woodley proved to be a brute, and next, Carruthers fell in love with Violet, and thereafter wanted nothing to do with his former confederates. He took to disguising himself and following her as she rode her bicycle past Charlington Hall, where he knew Woodley and Williamsom might be lying in wait for her.
Heavy penalties await Woodley and Williamson, but Carruthers only gets a few months due to Woodley's less-than-savory reputation. Holmes reassures Carruthers the "marriage" performed by Williamson was void. Not only was it performed against Violet's will, but Williamson had been defrocked and therefore had no authority to legalize a marriage.
I recommend this story to any reader who appreciates a well written mystery story, mainly featuring Sherlock Holmes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Book "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle"

About the Book: "The Adventure of the Dancing Men", one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is one of 13 stories in the cycle collected as The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Doyle ranked "The Adventure of the Dancing Men" third in his list of his twelve favorite Holmes stories. This is one of only two Sherlock Holmes short stories where Holmes' client dies after seeking his help. The other is "The Five Orange Pips", part of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

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 reinterred 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 honours 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, Mr. Hilton Cubitt of Ridling Thorpe Manor in Derbyshire visits Sherlock Holmes and gives him a piece of paper with a mysterious sequence of stick figures representing dancing men.
The little dancing men are at the heart of a mystery which seems to be driving his young wife Elsie Patrick to distraction. He married her about 3 years ago, and until recently, everything was well. She is American, and before the wedding, she asked her husband-to-be to promise her never to ask about her past, as she had had some “very disagreeable associations” in her life, although she said that there was nothing that she was personally ashamed of. Mr. Cubitt swore the promise and, being an honorable English gentleman, insists on living by it, which is one of the things causing difficulty at Ridling Thorpe Manor.
The trouble began when Elsie received a letter from the United States, which evidently disturbed her, and she threw the letter on the fire. Then the dancing men appeared, sometimes on a piece of paper left on the sundial overnight, sometimes scrawled in chalk on a wall or door, even a windowsill. Each time, their appearance has an obvious, terrifying effect on Elsie, but she will not tell her husband what is going on. Holmes tells Cubitt that he wants to see every occurrence of the dancing men. They are to be copied down and brought or sent to him at 221B Baker Street. Cubitt duly does this, and it provides Holmes with an important clue. Holmes comes to realize that it is a substitution cipher. He cracks the code by frequency analysis. The last of the messages conveyed by the dancing men is a particularly alarming one.
Holmes rushes down to Ridling Thorpe Manor only to find Cubitt dead of a bullet to the heart and his wife gravely wounded in the head. Inspector Martin of the Norfolk Constabulary believes that it is a murder-suicide, or will be if Elsie dies. She is the prime suspect in her husband’s death. Holmes sees things differently. Why is there a bullet hole in the windowsill, making a total of three shots, while Cubitt and his wife were each only shot once? Why are only two chambers in Cubitt’s revolver empty? What is the large sum of money doing in the room? The discovery of a trampled flowerbed just outside the window and the discovery of a shell casing therein confirm what Holmes has suspected: a third person was involved, and it is surely the one who has been sending the curious dancing-man messages.
Holmes knows certain things that Inspector Martin does not. He seemingly picks the name “Elrige’s” out of the air, and Cubitt’s stable boy recognizes it as a local farmer’s name. Holmes quickly writes a message — in dancing men characters — and sends the boy to Elrige’s Farm to deliver it to a lodger there, whose name he has also apparently picked out of the air. Of course, Holmes has learned both men's names by reading the dancing men code. While waiting for the result of this message, Holmes takes the opportunity to explain to Watson and Inspector Martin how he cracked the code of the dancing men, and the messages are revealed. The last one, which caused Holmes and Watson to rush to Norfolk, read “ELSIE PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD”.
The lodger, Mr. Abe Slaney, another American, unaware that Elsie is at death’s door and quite unable to communicate, duly arrives at Ridling Thorpe Manor a short while later, much to everyone’s astonishment, except Holmes’s. He has sent for Slaney using the dancing men, knowing that Slaney will believe that the message is from Elsie. He is seized as he comes through the door. He tells the whole story. He is Elsie's former fiancé from Chicago and has come to England to woo her back. She had originally fled his clutches because he was a dangerous criminal, as Holmes has found out through telegraphic inquiries to the US. When an encounter at the window where the killing happened turned violent with Hilton Cubitt's appearance in the room, Slaney pulled out his gun and shot back at Cubitt, who had already shot at him. Cubitt was killed and Slaney fled. Apparently, Elsie then shot herself. Slaney seems genuinely upset that Elsie has come to harm. The threatening nature of some of his dancing-man messages is explained by Slaney's losing his temper at Elsie's apparent unwillingness to leave her husband. The money found in the room was apparently to have been a bribe to make Slaney go away.
Slaney is arrested and later tried. He escapes the noose owing to mitigating circumstances. Elsie recovers from her serious injuries and spends her life helping the poor and administering her late husband’s estate.
Another masterpiece from Sir Conan Doyle. I recommend this book to the library of any reader who enjoys well written mystery stories, mainly featuring Sherlock Holmes.

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

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book "Dracengard" by Christopher Vale

About the Book: It has been over a thousand years since the last Realm War, when the forces of light banished the demonic shedom back to the Realm of Darkness. Now a new evil threatens the Middle Realm as a self-proclaimed wizard and a mysterious black knight lead an army of humanoid lizards against the kingdoms of man.
To save her home, Princess Terrwyn will join her twin brother Erec and little sister Taite on a desperate quest to find Dracengard, a mythical place that few believe even exists. They must brave man-eating monsters, demonic knights, and opportunistic pirates as they flee the Wizard's clutches with a magical stone that legend claims holds the power to destroy the forces of darkness.

About the Author: Christopher Vale lives in Florida with his beautiful wife, three adorable children and two fluffy dogs. The idea for his first book series "Dracengard" began when he was in a playwriting class in college in 1995 and evolved over the decades to become what it is now. You can visit him on the web at ChristopherVale.net.

My Review: What a great book! Initially I thought that this would be a variation of Morgan Rice's books from the "Sorcerer's Ring", but this author brings us a completely different new world, full of adventures, monsters, betrayals, plots and counter-plots, sacrifices, all the good ingredients to make this book an instant success. It is a very pleasant reading that will keep you entertained for hours.
The plot is interesting: a wizard tries to reunite some magic stones that would give him power beyond anything imaginable. There is a dark knight helping him with an army of monsters. One of the stones is guarded by a royal family. When under attack, the king send out his three kids (princess Terrwyn, her twin brother Erec and her little sister Taite) to go with the stone to this mystic place called Dracengard. It is a journey full of incidents and they got split in a certain moment. Erec is captured and Terrwyn and Taite proceed their journey, counting with the help of some dubious characters. The book is full of action and you will read it at the edge of your seat.
This is the first book of a series, so it does not end gracefully. It has a hook to the next episode, that definitely I will be reading in the near future.
I recommend this book to the permanent library of all readers that enjoy a well written book, young adults or not. You will enjoy it the same.

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "The Adventure of the Norwood Builder", one of the 56 short Sherlock Holmes stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is the second tale from The Return of Sherlock Holmes. The story was first published in Strand Magazine in 1903 with original illustrations by Sidney Paget.

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 reinterred 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 honours 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: Another superb story: The Norwood Builder is Jonas Oldacre, 52, reclusive retired bachelor, who vanished the night before (July+ 1894) from his house, not found when the lumber in his yard caught fire in a tremendous conflagration. His bed was unused, his safe open, papers scattered, signs of struggle, a large object dragged from safe to woodpile then burned, and blood on an oak cane belonging to late-night visitor, junior lawyer John McFarlane. The suspect bursts into Baker Street distraught, showing Holmes the news article that diverted him from his homeward train, and begs Holmes to help him.
As McFarlane relates his story, Lestrade, accompanied by constables, suddenly arrests his man, but agrees to listen to his story for half an hour. Yesterday at 3 pm, ferret-faced Oldacre, his name known as an acquaintance of the youth's parents, bade McFarlane turn scribbles into a legal will, with McFarlane learning to his surprise that Oldacre has made him his sole heir as Oldacre lacks any other family and has heard good things about him due to his past connection to McFarlane's parents. After witnessing and signing, the benefactor asked him for dinner at nine, to see essential paperwork details, and not tell his parents. Around midnight they finished sorting paper into sealed envelopes, and, admonished not to disturb the housekeeper, he was ushered, without his cane, out of the French window, safe still ajar. After the constables leave with their prisoner, Holmes explains the will's rough draft varies from clear to unreadable where the writer's train stopped at stations, then rumbled roughly.
Holmes investigates. At Blackheath, fluffy little mother McFarlane reveals Oldacre to be a vicious vengeful ex-suitor, rejected after he loosed a cat in an aviary. At Norwood trouser buttons from Oldacre's tailor are found among charred organic remains, examination of the remaining documents reveals allusions to missing valuable deeds, and a low bank balance attributable to recent large cheques to Mr. Cornelius. Defiant, guilty-eyed housekeeper Mrs. Lexington smelled burnt flesh the night before, and knows more than she says, that the visitor's hat and cane were both left in the front hall.
Next morning, Lestrade telegrams Holmes to come see McFarlane's bloody right thumbprint below the hat-peg, pointed out by Lexington. Holmes knows the evidence was not there yesterday, and minutely examines the whole house. He asks Lestrade for loud-voiced constables, and all cry "fire" after large straw bundles are lit, to smoke out their missing witness, Oldacre, from behind solid-seeming walls. Holmes gives Lestrade the victory, wagers one of the thumbprints sealing the safe papers is McFarlane's, that Oldacre filled with blood and transferred. Mr. Cornelius is probably an alter identity Oldacre had intended to take on permanently, the bitter man seeking revenge on his former lover by creating the illusion that he was murdered by her only child. Holmes notes with amusement that the thumb-print was actually the give-away clue; prior to the print's discovery, even Holmes suspected that McFarlane might be guilty, but Oldacre's inability to know when to stop creating his illusion caused him to expose himself. Under guard in the parlor, the villain whines that he intended it all to be a joke, and refuses to admit what flesh burned in the fire, so Holmes suggests Watson ascribe rabbits. Oldacre will be charged with conspiracy to commit murder and "Mr Connelius" bank account will be confiscated by Oldacre's crediters.
I recomment this book to all readers that enjoy a well written mystery book.

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Book "Gameland - Episode 7 - Tag, You're Dead" by Saul W.Tanpepper

About the Book: Torn between rescuing Ashley from the homicidal Ben and staying with Jake, who's been infected, Jessie, Kelly and Reggie must carefully plan their next move. But Reggie falls ill and the Undead break into their stronghold. Soon they're fighting for their lives in a battle that will lead all of the group to their darkest hour.

About the Author: Saul writes in several speculative fiction genres, including horror, cyberpunk, biopunk, and straight science fiction. A former Army medic and trauma specialist, he earned a PhD in molecular biology and genetics; his works are heavily informed by these past experiences.
Saul spent his formative years in a century-old house overlooking the Erie Canal in Upstate New York. He shared an attic room with all manner of creatures, not all, he is convinced, flesh and blood.
After several years spent overseas and working his way to executive positions in biotech, he returned to his true passion of storytelling.
He now writes full time from his home in the San Francisco Bay Area. He continues to be haunted by a variety of creatures, including a wife, kids, three dogs, three cats, twenty chickens, a wayward rooster, and one very grumpy possum. They are all flesh and blood.
Except for the possum, which he's sure is the reincarnated spirit of Jack Torrance.
Visit him at tanpepperwrites.com
Subscribe to be notified of new releases and exclusive deals at tinyletter.com/SWTanpepper.

My Review: This is a very well written series with a very intense story-line.  It is the sequel of "Kingdom of Players", sixth episode of this series. This is supposed to be the seventh of an eight series book, so it does not stand by itself as a story. It starts where episode six ended and finishes with a hook to the next episode. The plot is interesting and will keep you reading on the edge of your chair for most of the book. The characters are well developed and the scenario is so richly described that you feel you are inside the story. In episode one we saw a group of game hackers deciding to break into Long Island's Gameland, a place where nobody lives, because of an outbreak that happened twelve years before. All population that survived the outbreak were evacuated. Now the only entities that inhabit that wasteland are the zombies. Their adventure starts with a poorly planed trip idea and tension escalates during preparation for the trip and execution of the trip. They soon figure out that it is easier to enter than to leave the Island... In episode two, after trying to leave the Island, Jake is trapped and left behind, so Jessie wants to return to rescue him. Kelly anticipates her move and goes alone for the rescue. Then the whole group unite again, trying to bring them home. It fails badly and the whole group is back in the Island and facing some more mysteries. In episode three, Steven is an employee from Arc, doing some experiments on our group with new drugs to create an improved version of zombie. But before all were injected, they manage to escape from La Guardia Airport and go in the direction of Gameland. When arriving there (after lots of incidents and twists in the story), they find out some answers to questions they had from Steven and they were not happy about what they discover. In episode four, the group is in the heart of Gameland, trying to break the failsafe mechanism that could allow them to go back home. One of the members of the group is bitten and infected. More revelations happen. In the fifth episode, Jessie goes in search of a treatment to contain the disease, but she needs to return before it is too late. Other characters are introduced into the story, some that were left behind when the outbreak happened. In the sixth episode, Jessie finds other characters when trying to return to her group with the treatment. Things get out of control and these new characters ended up kidnapping one of the original group and they leave in search of the source of the treatment. An intense end leave us in suspense, and the seventh episode brings us to a battle for survival more intense than any previous one.   
This book was written by Saul W.Tanpepper in November 2012. I recommend this book to the permanent library of all thriller lovers, young adults or not. But be aware that you should read the previous episodes before reading this one, so you can understand what is going on and the interaction among the characters. If you enjoyed the first six, you will love this seventh book in this series.

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


Monday, October 13, 2014

Book "The Adventure of the Empty House" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "The Adventure of the Empty House", one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is one of 13 stories in the cycle collected as The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Public pressure forced Conan Doyle to bring the detective back to life, and explain his apparently miraculous survival of a deadly struggle with Professor Moriarty. Doyle ranked "The Adventure of the Empty House" sixth in his list of his twelve favorite Holmes stories.

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 reinterred 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 honours 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: Another Masterpiece. In this story, we are in April 1894, and Watson (now a widower) checks 427 Park Lane where a young gambler, the Honorable Ronald Adair, was shot in a closed room on the 30th of March. He bumps into a wizened old book collector, who follows him home to his Kensington practice study then drops his disguise – it is Holmes. Holmes apologizes for the deception needed to outwit his enemies, and describes his three years' exploits. He needed funds, so he confided in his brother Mycroft, who had preserved Sherlock Holmes's rooms.
Holmes is convinced that Adair was killed by Colonel Sebastian Moran, a surviving lieutenant of Moriarty. Holmes has set a trap: the empty house across from his Baker Street flat has a clear view of a wax bust of Holmes, which is moved regularly from below by Mrs. Hudson to simulate life. After a roundabout route, Watson and Holmes wait two hours until around midnight in the abandoned Camden House. Moran, who has taken the bait, fires a specialized air-gun to assassinate his foe. Watson knocks down the villain, while Holmes whistles for Inspector Lestrade and the police.
Back at Baker Street, Holmes explains. Adair planned to expose card-partner Moran whom he found cheating, and had locked himself in to count out the spoils he needed to return. Moran would have been ruined by the exposure and kills Adair instead.
I recommend this book to any reader who appreciate a well written mystery.

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

Friday, October 10, 2014

Book "The Final Problem" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "The Final Problem" is a short story by Arthur Conan Doyle featuring his detective character Sherlock Holmes. It was first published in Strand Magazine in December 1893. It appears in book form as part of the collection The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Conan Doyle later ranked "The Final Problem" fourth on his personal list of the twelve best Holmes stories.

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 reinterred 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 honours 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: This story, set in 1891, introduces Holmes's greatest opponent, the criminal mastermind Professor James Moriarty.
Holmes arrives at Dr. John Watson's residence one evening in a somewhat agitated state and with grazed and bleeding knuckles. He has apparently escaped three murder attempts that day after a visit from Professor Moriarty, who warned Holmes to withdraw from his pursuit of justice against him to avoid any regrettable outcome. First, just as he was turning a street corner, a cab suddenly rushed towards him and Holmes just managed to leap out of the way in time. Second, while Holmes was walking along the street, a brick fell from the roof of a house, just missing the detective. He then called the police to search the whole area but could not prove that it was anything other than an accident. Finally, on his way to Watson's house, he was attacked by a thug armed with a cosh. Holmes managed to overcome his assailant and handed him to the police but admitted that there was virtually no hope of proving that the man was in the employ of the criminal mastermind.
Holmes has been tracking Moriarty and his agents for months and is on the brink of snaring them all and delivering them to the dock. Moriarty is the criminal genius behind a highly organized and extremely secret criminal force and Holmes will consider it the crowning achievement of his career if only he can defeat Moriarty. Moriarty is out to thwart Holmes's plans and is well capable of doing so, for he is, as Holmes admits, the great detective's intellectual equal.
Holmes asks Watson to come to the continent with him, giving him unusual instructions designed to hide his tracks to Victoria station. Holmes is not quite sure where they will go; this seems rather odd to Watson. Holmes, certain that he has been followed to his friend's house, then makes off by climbing over the back wall in the garden. The next day Watson follows Holmes's instructions to the letter and finds himself waiting in the reserved first class coach for his friend, but only an elderly Italian priest is there. The cleric soon makes it apparent that he is Holmes in disguise.
As the train pulls out of Victoria, Holmes spots Moriarty on the platform, apparently trying to get someone to stop the train. Holmes is forced to take action as Moriarty has obviously tracked Watson, despite extraordinary precautions. He and Watson alight at Canterbury, making a change to their planned route. As they are waiting for another train to Newhaven a special one-coach train roars through Canterbury, as Holmes suspected it would. It contains Moriarty, who has hired the train in an effort to overtake Holmes. Holmes and Watson are forced to hide behind luggage.
Having made their way to Strasbourg via Brussels, the following Monday Holmes receives a message that most of Moriarty's gang have been arrested in England and recommends Watson return there now, as the detective will likely prove to be a very dangerous companion. Watson, however, decides to stay with his friend. Moriarty himself has slipped out of the grasp of the English police and is obviously with them on the continent.
Holmes and Watson's journey takes them to Switzerland where they stay at Meiringen. From there they fatefully decide to take a walk which will include a visit to Reichenbach Falls, a local natural wonder. Once there, a boy appears and hands Watson a note, saying that there is a sick Englishwoman back at the hotel who wants an English doctor. Holmes realises at once it is a hoax although he does not say so. Watson goes to see about the patient, leaving Holmes alone.
Upon returning to the Englischer Hof, Watson finds that the innkeeper has no knowledge of any sick Englishwoman. Realizing at last that he has been deceived, he rushes back to Reichenbach Falls but finds no one there, although he does see two sets of footprints going out onto the muddy dead end path with none returning. There is also a note from Holmes, explaining that he knew the report Watson was given to be a hoax and that he is about to fight Moriarty, who has graciously given him enough time to pen this last letter. Watson sees that towards the end of the path there are signs that a violent struggle has taken place and there are no returning footprints. It is all too clear Holmes and Moriarty have both fallen to their deaths down the gorge while locked in mortal combat. Heartbroken, Dr. Watson returns to England.
I recommend this book to all readers that appreciate a well written mystery story.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Book "A Charge of Valor" by Morgan Rice

About the Book: In A CHARGE OF VALOR (Book #6 in the Sorcerer's Ring), Thor continues on his quest, deeper into the Empire, to retrieve the stolen Destiny Sword and save the Ring. As he and his friends meet unexpected tragedy and lose a member of their close-knit group, Thor and his remaining friends become closer than they ever were, learning that they must face and overcome adversity together. Their journey takes them to new and exotic terrains, including the desolate Salt Fields, the Great Tunnel, and the Mountains of Fire, as they face a host of unexpected monsters at every turn.
Thor’s skills deepen as he undergoes his most advanced training yet, and he will need to draw on powers greater than he has ever used if he is to survive. They finally discover where the Sword has been taken, and they learn that, to retrieve it, they will have to venture to the most dreaded place in the Empire: the Land of the Dragons.
Back in the Ring, Gwendolyn recovers slowly and grapples with deep depression after her attack. Kendrick and the others vow to fight for her honor, despite the impossible odds. There follows one of the great battles in the history of the Ring, as they struggle to free Silesia and conquer Andronicus.
Meanwhile, Godfrey finds himself in disguise behind enemy lines and begins to come into his own, learning what it means to become a warrior, in his own, unique way. Gareth manages to stay alive, using all his cunning to avert capture by Andronicus, while Erec fights for his life to save Savaria from the oncoming invasion by Andronicus—and to save his love, Alistair. Argon pays a precious price for doing the forbidden: meddling in human affairs. And Gwendolyn must decide if she will give up on life, or take up the secluded life of a nun in the ancient Tower of Refuge.
But not before, in a shocking twist, Thor finally learns who his real father is.
Will Thor and the others survive the quest? Will they retrieve the Destiny Sword? Will the Ring survive Andronicus’ invasion? What will become of Gwendolyn, Kendrick and Erec? And who is Thor’s real father?
With its sophisticated world-building and characterization, A CHARGE OF VALOR is an epic tale of friends and lovers, of rivals and suitors, of knights and dragons, of intrigues and political machinations, of coming of age, of broken hearts, of deception, ambition and betrayal. It is a tale of honor and courage, of fate and destiny, of sorcery. It is a fantasy that brings us into a world we will never forget, and which will appeal to all ages and genders.

About the Author: Morgan Rice is the #1 bestselling and USA Today bestselling author of the epic fantasy series THE SORCERER'S RING, comprising sixteen books (and counting) (most recently, A JOUST OF KNIGHTS (BOOK #16); of the #1 bestselling series THE VAMPIRE JOURNALS, comprising eleven books (and counting); and of the #1 bestselling series THE SURVIVAL TRILOGY, a post-apocalyptic thriller comprising two books (and counting). Morgan's books are available in audio and print editions, and translations are available in over 20 languages.
Morgan loves to hear from you, so please feel free to visit www.morganricebooks.com to join the email list, receive a free book, receive free giveaways, download the free app, get the latest exclusive news, connect on Facebook and Twitter, and stay in touch!

My Review: In this episode Morgan continue her superb story, introducing a new character when Thor is on his quest to recover the Sword of Destiny, while we loose a dear member of our hero's group.
The Ring's inhabitants try to survive Andronicus invasion with the help of some of the Silver and Erec also tries to resist in another front of battle. The author imagination has no limits on providing new challenges to Thor and his group. On every turn of page you will find a real description of new monsters and new environments that the Empire world provides to Thor and we will see Thor developing more his powers and at the end, finding out who his real father is. Another very entertaining episode of this incredible saga. You will not get tired of following Thor, Gwendolyn and all our heroes in this new episode. Just be aware that in order to savor every moment of this episode, I recommend that you start reading from the first episode to better understand the dynamics among the characters, as well as have a full idea on the environment of the story.

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

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Book "Transoceanic Lights" by Sui Li

About the Book: This debut novel by S. Li, is about three hopeful families who immigrate to the US from post-Mao China. The novel was selected as a semi-finalist in the 2012 Leapfrog Fiction Contest, Finalist in the 2013 Asheville Award, and Finalist in the 2013 Willow Books Literature Award, which culminated in a live reading at an awards ceremony at Chicago State University.

About the Author: S. Li was born in Guangzhou, China in 1984 and moved to the US in 1989. He graduated with an A.B. in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard in 2006 and an M.D. from the University of Massachusetts in 2010. He lives in Boston with his wife and their Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

My Review: Writing is an art and this author is an artist. Mr. Li demonstrates a lot of talent on his debut novel, Transoceanic Lights. This novel is written with such sensibility, that at the end you will be deeply touched by the characters and the overall story.

The plot is simple. A group of three related families leaves China to come to America in hope of living a better life. The common relative is an older brother that came previously to USA and succeeded opening a restaurant, and now wants to bring his three brothers (and their families) to work for him at his restaurant. When visiting them in China, he covers them with gifts and nurture their illusion that USA is the country of opportunities, solution to all problems, and they will make a lot of money in America.

The story is narrated mostly by the son of one of the families, as well as by his mother. It goes over all their struggles. Family competition, untruthful relations between husband and wife, hate, love, friendship, solitude, the pain of leaving relatives back in China, family hierarchy, all different aspects of this adventure are covered in this wonderful novel by this young author. The characters are well developed and the emotions are so intensely described that we live the book! We want to strangulate the bullying cousin, we want to help the mother and we despise the sister in law that is nothing more than a lazy and jealous person. This book definitely has all the right ingredients to become an instant best seller!

I recommend this book to the permanent library of all readers that appreciate a very well written book that will keep them entertained for hours.

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

Monday, October 6, 2014

Book "The Naval Treaty" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty", one of the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories written by British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is one of 12 stories in the cycle collected as The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Doyle ranked "The Adventure of the Naval Treaty" nineteenth in a list of his nineteen favorite Sherlock Holmes stories.

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 reinterred 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 honours 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 receives a letter, which he then refers to Holmes, from Percy Phelps, a former schoolmate who is now a Foreign Office employee from Woking and has had an important naval treaty stolen from his office. It disappeared while Phelps had stepped out of his office momentarily late in the evening to see about some coffee that he had ordered. His office has two entrances, each joined by a stairway to a single landing. The commissionaire kept watch at the main entrance. There was no-one watching at the side entrance. Phelps also knew that his fiancée's brother was in town and that he might drop by. Phelps was alone in the office.
Phelps pulled the bell cord in his office to summon the commissionaire, and to his surprise the commissionaire's wife came up instead. He worked at copying the treaty that he had been given while he waited. At last, he went to see the commissionaire when it had taken some time for the coffee to arrive. He found him asleep with the kettle boiling furiously. He did not need to wake him up, however, as just then, the bell linked to his office rang. Realizing that someone was in his office with the treaty spread out on his desk, Phelps rushed back up and found that the document had vanished, and so had the thief.
It seemed obvious that the thief had come in through the side entrance; otherwise he would have passed Phelps on the stairs at some point, and there were no hiding places in his office. No footprints were seen in the office despite its being a rainy evening. The only suspect at that point was the commissionaire's wife, who had quickly hurried out of the building at about that same time.
This was followed up, but no treaty was found with her. Other suspects were the commissionaire himself and Phelps's colleague Charles Gorot. Neither seemed a very likely suspect, but the police followed them both, and the commissionaire's wife. As expected, nothing came of it.
Phelps was driven to despair by the incident, and when he got back to Woking, he was immediately put to bed in his fiancée's brother's room. There he remained, sick with “brain fever” for more than two months, his reputation and honour apparently gone, and his career in dire jeopardy.
Holmes is quite interested in this case, and makes a number of observations that others seem to have missed. The absence of footprints, for instance, might indicate that the thief came by cab. There is also the remarkable fact that the dire consequences that ought to result from such a treaty being divulged to a foreign government have not happened in all the time that Phelps has been ill. Why was the bell rung?
Holmes gathers some useful information at Briarbrae, the Phelps house, where his fiancée, Annie Harrison, and her brother Joseph have also been staying. She has been nursing him days while a nurse has been employed to keep watch over him at night. Joseph, it seems, is along for the ride.
After seeing Phelps at Woking, Holmes makes some inquiries in town. He visits Lord Holdhurst, Phelps's uncle, who gave his nephew his important job with the treaty, but Holmes dismisses him as a suspect, and is quite sure now that no-one could have overheard their discussion about the job. Lord Holdhurst reveals to Holmes the potentially disastrous consequences that might occur if the treaty should fall into the hands of the French or Russian embassies. Fortunately, nothing has yet happened, despite the many weeks since the theft. Apparently, the thief has not yet sold the treaty, and Lord Holdhurst informs Holmes that the villain's time is running out, as the treaty will soon cease to be a secret. Why, then, has the thief not sold the treaty?
Holmes returns to Woking, not having given up, but having to report that no treaty has turned up yet. Meanwhile, something interesting has happened at Briarbrae: someone tried to break in during the night, into Phelps's sick room, no less. Phelps surprised him at the window but could not see his face through the hooded cloak that he was wearing. He did, however, see the interloper's knife as he dashed away. This happened the very first night that Phelps felt he could do without the nurse.
Unknown to anyone else at this point — although Watson infers it from his friend's taciturnity — Holmes knows what is going on. He orders Annie to stay in her fiancé's sick room all day, and then to leave it and lock it from the outside when she finally goes to bed. This she does.
Holmes finds a hiding place near Briarbrae to keep watch after having sent Watson and Phelps to London on the train, and also letting the occupants at Briarbrae believe that he intended to go with them, ostensibly to keep Phelps out of harm's way should the interloper come back.
Holmes waits until about two o'clock in the morning, and the interloper appears — out of the house's tradesman's entrance. He goes to the window, gets it open as before, opens a hidden hatch in the floor, and pulls out the treaty. He then steps straight back out the window into Holmes's hands.
The treaty has been in Phelps's sick room all the time, while the thief, Joseph, who usually slept in that room, could not get to it. He rang the bell in Phelps's office after dropping by to visit and finding him not there, but then he saw the treaty and its potential value. His inability to reach the treaty explains why there have been no dire political consequences. Holmes explains that Joseph had lost a great deal of money on the stock market, which explains his need for money. Being a very desperate and selfish man, he cared nothing for the consequences Phelps might suffer from the document's loss.
Always one with a flair for the dramatic, Holmes literally has the treaty served up to Phelps as breakfast the next morning at 221B Baker Street, where he has spent the night under Watson's watchful eyes (although there has been no danger). Phelps is ecstatic, Holmes is quietly triumphant, and once again, Watson is dumbfounded.
Holmes explains that several clues all pointed to Joseph: the fact that the thief knew the ways of the office well, given that he had rung the bell before seeing the treaty, and that Phelps mentioned his relatives had been shown around; the fact that Joseph had intended to stop in and see Phelps on his way home, and that the theft had been committed very soon before the train would depart for Woking; that the thief had come in a cab, given that it was a rainy night but that there were no wet footprints in the passage; and the fact that the burglar who tried to break into Phelps's room was familiar with the layout of the house.
Excellent plot, I recommend this book to all Sherlock Holmes fans and any reader in general that enjoys a very well written mystery story.

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