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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Balance of June 2015

During the month of June, 2015, I reviewed the following:

Books:
- "The Problem of the Thor Bridge" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "The Adventure of the Creeping Man" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "The Glassford Girl - Parts 1 & 2" by Jay J. Falconer. Read my review.
- "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "Haw" by Sean Jackson. Read my review.
- "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.
- "Faggot: An Appalachian Tale - Surviving Bullying"  by Frank E.Billingsley. Read my review.
- "The Adventure of the Retired Colourman" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Read my review.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Book "The Adventure of the Retired Colourman" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "The Adventure of the Retired Colourman" (1926), 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 Case Book 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 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, Sherlock Holmes is hired by a retired art supply dealer from Lewisham, Josiah Amberley, to look into his wife’s disappearance. She has left with a neighbour, Dr. Ray Ernest, taking a sizeable quantity of cash and securities. Amberley wants the two tracked down.
Holmes is too busy with another case at the moment; so he sends Dr. Watson to Lewisham to observe what he can, although Watson is keenly aware that this is more Holmes’s province. He does his best, observing that Amberley is busy painting his house, which seems a bit odd. He even sees Amberley’s wife’s unused theater ticket; she and her young man disappeared while Amberley went to the theater alone after his wife complained of a headache. Watson notes the seat number.
Watson also sees Amberley’s strongroom from which his wife had taken the valuables. She, apparently, had a key of her own. He meets a lounger with a rather military appearance in the street, and later observes him running to catch the train at Blackheath Station as he is returning to 221B Baker Street. Holmes recognizes the description; it is his rival in detection, Barker. It later turns out that Ray Ernest’s family has hired him to find the missing doctor.
A number of other things about Amberley are obvious. He is a miser, and as such is quite a jealous man. He is an avid chess player (indeed, so is Ernest, which is how they became acquainted), suggesting to Holmes that he also has a scheming mind.
Holmes suspects something, and so sends Watson and Amberley on a fool’s errand to the remote village of Little Purlington, near Frinton in Essex, just to keep Amberley out of the way while Holmes breaks into his house to investigate it. He is “caught” by Barker, but they decide to work together.
They reach a conclusion, and later Holmes confronts Amberley with the dramatic question “What did you do with the bodies?” Holmes manhandles Amberley just in time to stop him taking a poison pill. Amberley is obviously guilty.
Holmes explains how he reached his conclusion. Amberley’s alibi fell apart when Holmes discovered that his seat at the Haymarket Theater had not been occupied on the night in question, its number deduced from the ticket that Watson had seen. Also, the painting was a clue. Holmes realized that it was being done to mask a smell, and he soon discovered what that was: gas. He found a gas pipe leading into the strongroom with a tap outside. Amberley had lured his wife and her lover — for so he had believed Dr. Ernest to be — into the strongroom, locked them in, and turned the gas on, killing them out of jealousy. He had simply hidden the “stolen” valuables somewhere. In indelible pencil, one of the victims wrote “We we…”, perhaps meaning to write “We were murdered.”
The bodies are found in a disused well in the garden, hidden under a dog kennel, just where Holmes suggested that the police look.
Amberley apparently hired Holmes out of “pure swank”, believing that no-one would ever find him out.
Holmes believes that Amberley will likely end up at Broadmoor rather than on the scaffold, owing to his mental state.
Good plot, I recommend this book to all the readers who appreciate a well written mystery short story.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Book "Faggot: An Appalachian Tale - Surviving Bullying" by Frank E.Billingsley

About the Book: A teenager tries to make sense of his life. He has turned cold, withdrawn, and depressed. He is different, and everyone knows. He is gay, living in a town that does not understand him. He lives in a family that does not know how to support him. He is abused emotionally, physically, and sexually for years. No one cares. No one helps. Then on one dark rainy night, everything changes.
Share in this story that debates religion, overpopulation, the human condition, and lays the case for the greater acceptance of the LGBT community.

About the Author: Frank Billingsley, an Ohioan, who considers himself a child of the world, spends time between Europe and the United States. Frank holds a Doctorate in Leadership and Administration, a Masters in Management, a Masters in Human Ecology, and a Bachelors in Psychology. He has over 20 years of professional experience in social work, teaching, administration, and as a university professor.

My Review: This is a very well written book, about a teenage boy who is constantly bullied because he is different from his peers. The acceptance of differences thirty years ago was much less then it is today, mainly regarding sexuality differences and the author describes in a most sentimental way all the struggles lived by this boy at that time. This book illustrates not just his struggle for survival, but mainly hope that things can and will change for the better. After going over through so many humiliations in his young life, he concludes that he does not want to continue living like that. He lost hope and felt worthless, and tried to take pills to end his life, but failed to accomplish this task. The boy discovers little by little who he really is. When he figures himself out and his purpose in life, his life acquires a new meaning and although he does not have support, he manages to pass this difficult phase of his life and move on with his new found identity in his mission to help people.
Although it is in the short side for the size, the contents of the book are strong and with a positive message. Well written, very inspirational, this book will keep you entertained for hours. I recommend it to the permanent library of all readers who appreciate a novel with a positive message of encouragement for those who feel different from what is consider by common sense to be normal. Is it about time for us to review our prejudices? This book might make you think about that.

I received this book from the author and I was not requested to write a positive review. Opinion expressed here is my own.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Book "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "The Adventure of Shoscombe Old Place" is the last of the 56 Sherlock Holmes short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. The story is part of the series The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes first published Strand Magazine. The original title "The Adventure of the Black Spaniel" was changed before publication.

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, Head trainer John Mason from Shoscombe Old Place, a racing stable in Berkshire, comes to Holmes about his master, Sir Robert Norberton. Mason thinks he has gone mad. Sir Robert’s sister, Lady Beatrice Falder, owns Shoscombe, but it will revert to her late husband’s brother when she dies. The stable has a horse, Shoscombe Prince, who Sir Robert hopes will win the Derby. He would be out of debt if that actually happened.
Mason is not quite sure what he wants Holmes to investigate, but a number of odd changes have happened at the stable:
Why has Lady Beatrice suddenly forgone her usual habit of stopping to greet her favourite horse? Why does she just ride on by in her carriage?
Why has Sir Robert become so wild-eyed lately?
Why has he given his sister’s dog away to a neighbourhood innkeeper?
Why does he go to the old crypt at night, and who is that man that he meets there?
Why have burnt human bones been found in the furnace at Shoscombe?
Holmes decides to investigate on the spot. He and Dr. Watson go to Berkshire posing as anglers and learn some interesting things. The keeper of the inn where they are staying is the one who now has Lady Beatrice’s dog, and it is quite an expensive breed, one that an innkeeper ordinarily could never afford.
With the innkeeper’s permission, Holmes takes the dog for a walk, and goes to Shoscombe, where he releases it as Lady Beatrice’s carriage comes out of the gate. The dog dashes forward enthusiastically at first, but then flees in terror. Then, even though a maid and Lady Beatrice are supposedly the only two people in the carriage, it is a male voice that yells “Drive on!”
Then there is the crypt. John Mason observes that a heap of bones there earlier is now gone. Holmes finds a coffin with a fresh, swathed body in it. Just then, Sir Robert arrives, catching Holmes and Watson in the act. After Holmes makes it plain that he has deduced most of the odd goings-on, Sir Robert invites him and Watson back to the house and explains everything.
About a week earlier, Lady Beatrice died of dropsy, and Sir Robert felt compelled to keep the fact secret so that the creditors would not swoop down on Shoscombe before he had a chance to win the Derby and pay off all his debts. He and the maid’s husband hid the body in the crypt, but also found that they had to dispose of an older body — in the furnace. This same man also dressed up in Lady Beatrice’s clothes and took her place in the carriage each day. The dog knew what had happened and might have given the game away if its noise had aroused suspicion.
Holmes refers the matter to the police, but the story ends happily. Shoscombe Prince wins the Derby, Sir Robert escapes any major judicial penalty for what he did to his sister’s body, and he pays off all his debts with a great deal left over.
Excellent plot, I recommend this story to all readers who appreciate a well written mystery short story.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Book "Haw" by Sean Jackson

About the Book: In a barbaric future, enough hope remains for some to sacrifice everything. The gripping story of a father’s struggle to save his son from a corrupt society in a pitiless, bleak, futuristic America. Mired in a corrupt, dangerous city that is on the verge of collapse, a father and son flee to a rural village, hoping to find refuge from their violent lives. What they find is not the haunted hippie environs of local legend, but a gritty farm community that thrives despite the threat of criminal invasions and the ominous presence of a nearby nuclear reactor.
A bioengineer, Lucas lends his expertise to the efforts of sustainability, while his son—a rising young photojournalist—falls in love with one of the sons of a folksy family whose charm lies in its ability to keep the community together, through music and love—until disaster shakes their fragile world.

About the Author: Sean Jackson has published numerous short stories in literary journals, from the U.S. to Canada and Australia. Haw is his debut novel. He was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. He lives in Cary with his wife and two sons.

My Review: This is the debut novel from this author. He does an amazing job describing a future with a reality that makes us just hope that we are not going in that direction. His characters are fully developed and we learn to respect their struggle to survival. In a world where water and air are polluted and society is collapsing, a father and a son seek refugee in the rural village, trying to escape from the craziness of the city. Rulers are merciless and decision to kill thousands  in benefit of a few is done without a second thought.
This is a very well written story, that will keep you entertained for hours. If you do not take care, you might read it all in one sit, as the story will grab your attention and you will want to learn what next page will bring.
I recommend this book to all readers who like a novel about a dark future were survival is earned at every step of the way.
I received this book from the author for reviewing, and I was not requested to write a positive review. Opinion expressed here is my own.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Book "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "The Adventure of the Veiled Lodger" (1927), 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 Case Book 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 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, Sherlock Holmes is visited by Mrs. Merrilow, a landlady from South Brixton who has an unusual lodger who never shows her face. She saw it once accidentally and it was hideously mutilated. This woman, formerly very quiet, has recently taken to cursing in the night, shouting “Murder, murder!” and “You cruel beast! You monster!”
Also, her health has taken a turn for the worse, and she is wasting away.
Mrs. Merrilow has brought this case to Holmes’s attention as her tenant, Mrs. Ronder, will not involve the clergy or the police in something that she would like to say. She has told her landlady to mention Abbas Parva, knowing that Holmes would understand the reference.
Indeed he does. It was a most tragic case in which a circus lion somehow got loose and savaged two people, one of whom was killed, and the other badly disfigured. The latter is apparently this lodger. The former was her husband. Holmes could make little of the case at the time, but perhaps if someone had actually hired him, the outcome would have been different. As it was, the inquest ruled that Mr. Ronder was the victim of death by misadventure.
Still, even the local police were a bit disturbed at the time by some seeming inconsistencies in the accounts. The lion was part of an act which Mr. and Mrs. Ronder performed right in its cage, and they were the ones who fed it. Why had it suddenly turned on its feeders? Why had it not tried to escape? Who was that man that several people heard screaming when supposedly Mr. Ronder had already been killed?
Upon arriving at Brixton, Holmes and Watson are shown into Mrs. Ronder’s room, which she seldom leaves. She is wearing her veil. Her purpose, it seems, is to make a clean breast of the matter before she dies.
Mr. Ronder was a terrible husband, cruel and violent in the extreme, even to the circus animals, but he didn’t care, even though he wound up in the dock for it several times. He was rich and the fines meant nothing.
Mrs. Ronder had an extramarital lover, the circus strongman, Leonardo. They conceived a plan to get rid of the piglike Mr. Ronder. Leonardo made a club with five nails in it, whose wounds might be taken for a lion’s. Then, one night at Abbas Parva, a small village in Berkshire where the circus had camped for the night, Leonardo smashed Ronder’s head in with the club, and his wife released the lion to make it appear that it had broken free and done the deed. However, the lion turned and pounced on Mrs. Ronder, chewing her face up badly. Leonardo began screaming and ran away. He could have helped his lover, but he was a coward.
She could not bring herself to implicate Leonardo in her husband’s murder at the inquest, and is only now telling Holmes and Watson this story because she believes that she will soon die. Ever since that night, she has lived alone and veiled.
Holmes only has advice to offer. Realizing that Mrs. Ronder is contemplating suicide, he reminds her that her life is worth something as an example of patient suffering in an impatient world. She responds by lifting her veil, and the sight is ghastly.
Nevertheless, two days later, Holmes receives a bottle of prussic acid, from Mrs. Ronder. She was going to use it, but has apparently thought better of it.
Another good plot, I recommend this book to all readers that appreciate a well written mystery short story.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Book "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "The Adventure of the Lion's Mane" (1926), 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 Case Book of Sherlock Holmes. It is notable for being narrated by Holmes himself, instead of by Dr. Watson (who does not appear in the story).

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, Sherlock Holmes is enjoying his retirement in Sussex when one day at the beach, he meets his friend Harold Stackhurst, the headmaster of a nearby preparatory school called The Gables. No sooner have they met than Stackhurst's science master, Fitzroy McPherson, staggers up to them, obviously in agony and wearing only an overcoat and trousers. He collapses, manages to say something about a "lion's mane", and then dies. He is observed to have red welts all over his back, administered by a flexible weapon of some kind, for the marks curve over his shoulder and round his ribs.
Moments later, Ian Murdoch, a mathematics teacher, comes up behind them. He has not seen the attack, and has only just arrived at the beach from the school. Holmes sees a couple of people far up the beach, but thinks they are much too far away to have had anything to do with McPherson's death. Likewise, the few fishing boats off the beach are too far out.
It emerges that Murdoch and McPherson were friends, but had not always been. Murdoch is an enigmatic fellow with an occasional bad temper. He once threw McPherson's dog through a plate-glass window, for instance. Despite this, Stackhurst is sure that they were friends.
McPherson also had a lover, and on further investigation, it turns out that Maud Bellamy was McPherson's fiancée. A note confirming a meeting with her was found on McPherson, but it gave no clear details.
Holmes goes to look at the lagoon formed by a recent storm that local men have been using as a bathing pond. He sees McPherson's towel lying there dry and concludes that he never went into the water. Holmes arranges to have the caves and other nooks at the foot of the cliffs searched, expecting that nothing and no-one will turn up. He is right.
Stackhurst and Holmes decide to go and see Miss Bellamy to see whether she can shed any light on this perplexing mystery. Just as they are approaching The Haven, the Bellamys' house, they see Ian Murdoch emerge. Stackhurst demands to know what he was doing there, and an angry exchange ensues with Murdoch declaring in effect that it was none of Stackhurst's business. Stackhurst loses his temper and sacks Murdoch on the spot. He storms off to get ready to move out.
They visit the Bellamys and find an amazingly beautiful woman in Maud Bellamy, but two most unpleasant men in her father and muscular brother. It seems that they did not approve of the liaison between Maud and McPherson. They do not even find out about the engagement until this meeting, such has been the secrecy of their affair. Maud says that she will help however she can, but it does not seem likely that she can do anything. It emerges, however, that Ian Murdoch was once a potential suitor to Miss Bellamy. Holmes begins to suspect that Murdoch may be responsible for McPherson's death, out of jealousy.
A further mystifying clue presents itself when McPherson's dog is found dead at the very pool where McPherson met his end. It obviously died in agony, much as its master did. At this point, Holmes begins to suspect something else. The dead man's dying words, "lion's mane," have triggered a memory, but he cannot quite call it back to mind.
Inspector Bardle of the Sussex Constabulary visits Holmes to ask if there is enough evidence to arrest Ian Murdoch. Holmes is sure that there is not. The case is most incomplete, especially as Murdoch has an alibi. He also could not have singlehandedly overcome McPherson, who was quite strong, despite having heart trouble. The two men also consider McPherson's wounds. The weals actually looked as though they may have been administered by a hot wire mesh, or perhaps a cat o' nine tails. Holmes has formed a theory which might explain McPherson's death and is about to go back to the bathing pond to test it.
As he is about to leave, Murdoch arrives, helped in by Stackhurst, who is afraid that Murdoch might be dying; he fainted twice in pain. He has the same wounds on him that McPherson had. In great agony, he calls for brandy, passes out, but finally recovers.
At the bathing pond, Holmes spots the murderer: it is a Lion's Mane Jellyfish (Cyanea capillata), a deadly creature about which Holmes has read. Holmes takes a rock and kills it. He shares the story by John George Wood of an encounter with just such a jellyfish with the other men. Murdoch is exonerated, of course. It turns out that he was acting as a go-between for McPherson and Maud, and did not wish to discuss it with anyone. The story ends on an upbeat note as Stackhurst forgives Murdoch and gives him his job back.
Another very entertaining Sherlock Holmes short story! I recommend this book to all readers that appreciate a well written mystery book.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Book “Glassford Girl - Parts 1 & 2” by Jay J.Falconer

About the Book: Teleportation. Telepathy. Superior strength and speed. Abilities no homeless girl should be without. Abilities she never wanted. Abilities she needs to learn how to control.
Despite all her abilities, Emily Heart just wants her old life back. Her life before being abducted and genetically transformed against her will. A life filled with family, friends, and a warm bed to sleep in.
Emily vows to find those responsible and make them pay for what they've done, but it won’t be easy. Not when a gang wants to kill her, cops want to arrest her, and a reporter wants to expose her.
However, Emily’s problems don’t end there. Any uncontrolled burst of emotion can send her jumping randomly across time and space, arriving naked and alone.
Emily doesn't quite know what she is, or what she's capable of, but she knows what she can't afford to do -- feel anything.
And she can’t afford to make any mistakes.

About the Author: Jay J. Falconer is an independent author, publisher, blogger, editor, engineer and Sci-Fi junkie who lives in the mountains of northern Arizona where the brisk, clean air and stunning mountain views inspire his workday.
He makes his online home at www.JayFalconer.com and is the author of the critically acclaimed Narrows of Time book series. If the mood strikes you, please use the Contact the Author form on his website to connect with him. Mr. Falconer would love to hear from you. He personally reads and responds to all inquiries. You may also connect with him on Facebook
www.facebook.com/NarrowsOfTime
Mr. Falconer is currently developing an all new action Sci-Fi series called Redfall. The first season is expected to be released in 2015.
His blog can be found online at www.IncursionMag.com.
Check it out if you're interested in reading about the latest breakthroughs and announcements within the science and technology fields.

My Review: Emily Heart, our heroine, is a high student that is abducted together with her mother, when they are going to church. The abductors ended up killing her mother and she manage to scape. Having her body genetically altered, she now possess abilities that she cannot control. She starts jumping forward in time when she goes over strong emotional stress. Now she is homeless in Phoenix, trying to survive between her jumps in time. One of the most important rule she created is to never get involved with anyone, but she ends up meeting Junie in a homeless shelter. Junie is a young girl that lives in the streets. Emily also meets Derek, another street character, member of a dangerous street gang. One of Emily’s new abilities is to sense the real interior goodness of people when they are close to her and she knows that deep inside Derek is a good person. Another character is Jim Miller, a reporter that is following Emily’s appearance and has a full folder on her, with photos over a 30 year span showing that she did not age at all during this period. He tries to contact and protect her.
But the abductors did not give up on getting her back and are on her persecution, with highly advanced technology… How will that story end? The author did and incredible job creating a whole plot with his innovative way of exploring time travel. His characters are real, credible, and fully developed, in a way that we start cheering for Emily in every turn of the pages. The world he describes is our world and we start believing that everything is possible in his science fiction novel. It has been a while since I read such a good and stimulating book. Very well written, with excellent grammar and vocabulary, Kudos to the author. He got me hooked and I will be buying the remaining of the series to find out what will happen to Emily Heart.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Book "The Adventure of the Creeping Man" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "The Adventure of the Creeping Man" 1923 is one of 12 Sherlock Holmes short stories (56 total) by Arthur Conan Doyle in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes first published in Strand Magazine.

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, Mr. Trevor Bennett comes to Sherlock Holmes with a most unusual problem. He is Professor Presbury's personal secretary, and Mr. Bennett is also engaged to the professor's only daughter, Edith.
Professor Presbury is himself engaged to a young lady, Alice Morphy, a colleague's daughter, although he himself is already sixty-one years old. Their impending marriage does not seem to have caused a great scandal; so that is not Mr. Bennett's problem. Nonetheless, the trouble seems to have begun at about the time of Professor Presbury's and Alice's engagement.
First, the professor suddenly left home for a fortnight without telling anyone where he was going. He returned looking rather travel-worn. It was only through a letter from a friend sent to Mr. Bennett that the family learnt that Professor Presbury had been to Prague.
Also, the professor's usually faithful Irish Wolfhound has taken to attacking him on occasion, and has had to be tied up outside. Holmes knows from his study of dogs that this is significant.
Upon returning from Prague, Professor Presbury told Mr. Bennett that certain letters would arrive with a cross under the stamp, and he was not to open these. Until this time, Mr. Bennett had enjoyed the professor's implicit trust and had opened all his letters as part of his job. As the professor said, such letters did arrive, and he gave them straight to the professor. Whether any replies were sent Mr. Bennett does not know, as they never passed through his hands.
The whole household feels that they are living with another man, not the Professor Presbury that they once knew. He has become furtive and sly. There are definite changes in his moods and habits, some quite bizarre; however, his mind does not seem to be adversely affected. His lectures are still brilliant, and he can still function as a professor.
Mr. Bennett observed a curious behaviour in his employer. He opened his bedroom door one night, as he tells Holmes and Watson, and saw the professor crawling along the hall on his hands and feet. When he spoke to Professor Presbury, his master swore at him and scuttled off to the stairway.
Edith Presbury, who arrives at 221B Baker Street halfway through her fiancé's interview with Holmes says that she saw her father at her bedroom window one night at two o'clock in the morning. Her bedroom is on the second floor, and there is no long ladder in the garden. She is sure that she did not imagine this.
The professor brought a small carved wooden box back with him from Prague. One day, as Mr. Bennett was looking for a cannula, he picked the box up, and the professor became very angry with him. Mr. Bennett was quite shaken by the incident.
Mr. Bennett mentions that the dog attacks came on July 2, 11, and 20. Holmes does not mention it aloud at the time, but these are intervals of nine days each time.
Holmes and Watson go to Camford to see the professor the next day. They decide to pretend that they have an appointment, and that if Professor Presbury does not remember making one, he will likely put it down to the dreamworld that he has been living in lately. Things do not go quite this way. The professor is quite sure that he has made no appointment, and confirms this with his embarrassed secretary, Mr. Bennett. Professor Presbury becomes furiously angry at the intrusion, and Watson believes that they might actually have to fight their way out of the house. Mr. Bennett, though, convinces the professor that violence against a man as well known as Sherlock Holmes would surely bring about a scandal. Holmes and Watson leave, and then Holmes confides to Watson that the visit has been worthwhile, as he has learnt much about the professor's mind, namely that it is clear and functional, despite the recent peculiar behaviour.
Mr. Bennett comes out of the house after Holmes and tells him that he has found the address that Professor Presbury has been writing to and receiving the mysterious letters from. The addressee is a man named Dorak, a Central European name. This fits in with the professor's secret journey to Prague. Holmes later finds out from his "general utility man" Mercer that Dorak is indeed a Bohemian, elderly, suave man who keeps a large general store. Before leaving the professor's house, Holmes has a look at Edith's bedroom window, and sees that the only possible way for someone to climb up there is by using the creeper, rather unlikely for a 61-year-old man.
Holmes has formed a theory that every nine days, Professor Presbury takes some kind of drug which causes the odd behaviour. Holmes believed that he became addicted in Prague, and is now supplied by this Dorak in London. Holmes has told Mr. Bennett that he and Watson will be in Camford once again on the next Tuesday. As is usual with Holmes, he does not explain why.
He and Watson show up on the appointed evening, and Holmes suddenly realizes something. He has observed the professor's thick and horny knuckles, and until now, has not made the connection between these, the odd behaviour, the dog's change in attitude towards his master, and the creeper. The professor is behaving like a monkey!
Shortly after the realization, Holmes and Watson are treated to a firsthand display of Professor Presbury's odd behaviour. He comes out of the house, scampers about on all fours, climbs on the creeper, and torments the tied-up dog. Unfortunately, the wolfhound gets loose and attacks the professor. The two of them, with Mr. Bennett's help, manage to get the dog off the professor, but he is wounded badly. Watson and Bennett, who is also a medical man, tend to the professor's injuries.
Holmes then examines the professor's little wooden box after having obtained the key from the now unconscious owner. It contained a drug, as Holmes expected, but there was also a letter there from a man named Lowenstein who, it turns out, is a quack whose help the professor sought out as a way of achieving rejuvenation, which he thought would be advisable if he were going to marry a young woman. The drug is an extract obtained from langurs, and although it has apparently given the professor renewed energy, it has also given him some of the langur's traits, and that is why the dog was attacking its owner.
Good plot, I recommend this book to all readers that appreciate a well written mystery book, mainly featuring Sherlock Holmes.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Book "The Problem of the Thor Bridge" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

About the Book: "The Problem of Thor Bridge" is a Sherlock Holmes murder mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, first published in 1922 from Strand Magazine.

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, Neil Gibson, the Gold King and former Senator for "some Western state", approaches Holmes to investigate the murder of his wife Maria in order to clear his children's governess, Grace Dunbar, of the crime. It soon emerges that Mr. Gibson's marriage had been unhappy and he treated his wife very badly. He had fallen in love with her when he met her in Brazil, but soon realised they had nothing in common. He became attracted to Miss Dunbar; since he could not marry her, he had attempted to please her in other ways, such as trying to help people less fortunate than himself.
Maria Gibson was found lying in a pool of blood on Thor Bridge with a bullet through the head and note from the governess, agreeing to a meeting at that location, in her hand. A recently discharged revolver with one shot fired is found in Miss Dunbar's wardrobe. Holmes agrees to look at the situation in spite of the damning evidence.
From the outset, Holmes observes some rather odd things about the case. How could Miss Dunbar so coolly and rationally have planned and carried out the murder and then carelessly tossed the murder weapon into her wardrobe? What was the strange chip on the underside of the bridge's stone balustrade? Why was Mrs. Gibson clutching the note from Miss Dunbar when she died? If the murder weapon was one of a matched pair of pistols, why couldn't the other one be found in Mr. Gibson's collection?
Holmes uses his powers of deduction to solve the crime, and demonstrates, using Watson's revolver, how it was perpetrated: Mrs Gibson, outraged and jealous of Miss Dunbar's relationship with her husband, resolved to end her own life and frame her rival for the crime. After arranging a meeting with Miss Dunbar, requesting her to leave her response in a note, Mrs Gibson tied a rock on a piece of string to the end of a revolver, and shot herself, the rock pulling the revolver over the side of the bridge; the revolver found in Miss Dunbar's wardrobe was the other pistol of the pair, which had been fired off in the woods earlier, and the chip in the bridge was caused by the pistol hitting the stonework as it was pulled off by the rock. Holmes's reconstruction using Watson's revolver reproduces the damage to the balustrade of the bridge. He asks the police to drag the lake for the revolvers of Watson and Gibson.
Excellent plot, I recommend this book to all readers that appreciate a well written mystery short story.